Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont can be extradited, say judges

Carles Puigdemont was living in self-imposed exile in Belgium following the failed independence bid until his arrest in Germany in March

The high court in Schleswig-Holstein, the state where Puigdemont was first arrested in March, ruled Thursday that extradition on the grounds of alleged misappropriation of public funds is admissible.

Germany would only extradite the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont to Spain on a charge of misuse of public funds, not the more serious charge of rebellion, a court has ruled.

In its decision in the case of Carles Puigdemont, the Schleswig-Holstein state court said the former Catalan leader could be extradited on embezzlement charges, but not rebellion.

The charges are in connection with the Catalan regional government's unauthorized referendum past year on independence from Spain and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence by the separatist-controlled regional parliament.

"The German justice system denies that the referendum on October 1 was rebellion", he said, referring to the independence vote that went ahead despite a court ban and was marred by police violence.

"The accusations against Puigdemont are not equivalent to a crime of high treason and the disturbance of public order under German law", the statement from the German court added.

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The current Catalan regional premier, Quim Torra, a hard-line supporter of Catalan independence, was quick to voice his reaction to the news via Twitter.

The court has not chose to impose any precautionary measures on Puigdemont, meaning that he remains a free man. The laws of most countries do not criminalise rebellion, with the result that there is no "dual criminality" between Spain and Germany. "We will win in Europe", Torra tweeted.

"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".

Puigdemont is one of 13 separatist leaders accused of rebellion, four of whom are in self-exile in various European countries.

"This demonstrates once again the mistakes and lies behind a legal case which should never have been opened".

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