Catalan ex-leader Carles Puigdemont plans return to Belgium

A protester wears a mask of ousted separatist president Carles Puigdemont during a demonstration in Barcelona

Sanchez, a prominent secessionist, has been in a Madrid prison along with other separatist leaders since October.

A previous attempt to appoint Sanchez as regional president failed last month after Spain's Supreme Court turned down a request for him to be released from jail to be sworn in.

Separately, the president of the Catalan regional parliament, Roger Torrent, said Saturday he would back pro-independence activist Jordi Sanchez - now in prison in Madrid - to become the next regional president in an effort to avert an election. "He keeps his rights as a deputy and to be (regional) president", said Puigdemont at a news conference in Berlin on Saturday.

But he must remain in Germany while extradition proceedings continue and report to police once a week.

Separatists in Catalonia's regional parliament already tried to elect Sanchez as regional chief but their efforts were blocked by a judge last month.

Carles Puigdemont on April 7.

Spain had sought Puigdemont's extradition from Germany after a Spanish Supreme Court judge charged the 55 year-old politician with rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Puigdemont told reporters that he hoped a German court's decision not to extradite him to Spain on charges of rebellion shows that "dialogue is needed" to defuse the political conflict in his home country.

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The court ordered his release on a bail of €75,000 ($91,786).

He had been there since March 25, when he was arrested crossing the border from Denmark.

But the court disagreed, saying that Mr Puigdemont can not be extradited for rebellion.

He has been living in Belgium since fleeing Spain to escape arrest, and has been held at a prison in Neumuenster.

Justice Minister Katarina Barley of Germany applauded that the courtroom's conclusion to spare Mr. Puigdemont on bail as "entirely appropriate" and exactly what she'd expected.

A demonstration was planned in the northern German town of Neumünster, where Puigdemont had been held since his detention, against his still-possible extradition.

Puigdemont said he has no plans to return to Spanish soil, where he faces arrest, and insisted the Catalan conflict requires global mediation.

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