Catalan politician can legally be extradited, German court rules

Catalan politician can legally be extradited, German court rules

That would mean if Puigdemont is extradited he can only stand trial in Spain on corruption charges, said a spokeswoman for the higher court in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

But, a further charge of inciting rebellion, dating back to the Catalan uprising in 2017, did not warrant the former leader to be extradited from Germany to Spain, the court ruled.

While separatists had hoped Mr. Puigdemont could avoid extradition altogether, Thursday's decision is likely to invigorate Catalonia's pro-independence forces.

Puigdemont went into self-imposed exile in Belgium after Madrid fired him and his government for "illegally" declaring independence for Catalonia. The court argued that the nearest German equivalent, high treason, was not applicable as Puigdemont had not caused or instigated violence.

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.

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DPA news agency reported a spokesperson said the extradition order for Puigdemont will soon be approved by Schleswig-Holstein's state attorney general.

The charge of misuse of public funds carries a maximum prison sentence of eight years while the more serious charge of rebellion, faced by many of Puigdemont's former cabinet, could put him in prison for up to 30 years. The court said in its ruling that he can remain free.

A second charge of rebellion did not warrant an extradition from Germany to Spain, the court ruled. "We will win in Europe", Torra tweeted. Before he closed this part of the proceedings, he ordered Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras, and the four other politicians who are being held in pre-trial custody (Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Jordi Sànchez) to be suspended from their roles as deputies in the Catalan parliament.

Puigdemont and several other former Catalan leaders have been accused by Spanish authorities of misusing funds by holding the independence referendum last October, which Madrid described as illegal.

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

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