Catalan politician can legally be extradited, German court rules

The more serious charge of rebellion is not recognised under German law which means that Spain would not be able to try Mr Puigdemont on this charge

The decision means that if he is extradited, Puigdemont can only stand trial in Spain on embezzlement charges over allegations he misused public funds, court spokeswoman Christine von Milczewski said.

The court in Schleswig-Holstein gave its green light to the extradition of the 55-year-old for misuse of public funds but not rebellion, which carries up to 25 years in jail.

Quim Torra, the Catalan region's current president and a fervent separatist, said the dropping of rebellion charges was "wonderful news".

The court also ruled, however, that the deposed leader's actions in Catalonia do not meet the definitions of high treason or breach of the peace and the violence triggered by the bid for independence did not pose a severe threat to Spanish rule.

"However, in authorising Mr Puigdemont's extradition for the offence of misuse of public funds, it seems that the German court rejected, or was unable to consider, whether extradition should be refused on the basis that the prosecution was politically motivated".

He and a number of his former colleagues are facing charges for their role in the pro-independence drive, which reached its peak past year with an illegal referendum on secession from Spain and the aforementioned declaration.

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"We have defeated the main lie sustained by the state", Puigdemont tweeted.

Puigdemont has been on bail since April, after a court ruled he could not be extradited for rebellion, as that was not actionable under German law. This was illegal under Spain's constitution, according to Spanish law.

"The amount of violence required for the charge of high treason was not seen in the altercations in Spain. German justice denies that the October 1 referendum was rebellion", Puigdemont tweeted following the court decision.

The Spanish government rejects Catalan independence. "We will win in Europe", Torra tweeted.

"This demonstrates once again the mistakes and lies behind a legal case which should never have been opened". The 18 suspects are now a step away from going to trial, which is likely to be held at the end of this year or the start of the next.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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