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German court rejects call for Puigdemont to be rearrested

By Geir Moulson, Associated Press  |  Posted May 22nd, 2018 @ 4:32am


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BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Tuesday rejected a request from prosecutors to take former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back into custody pending a decision on whether he can be extradited to Spain.

Puigdemont was detained by German police March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark. Spain had issued a European arrest warrant and sought his extradition on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds — charges that stem from an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia's independence from Spain.

He was released April 6 after a German court said it appeared he can't be extradited for rebellion, the more serious of the two charges. But prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig argued that new information provided by Spanish authorities suggests that would be possible.

They cited videos showing violence against Spanish police and said in a statement that "the disturbances were on such a scale that prosecutors believe that he should also be extradited over the accusation of rebellion." The prosecutors argued that the charge is comparable to two offenses under German law — treason and breaching the peace.

They said that Puigdemont would pose a flight risk and called for him to be taken back into custody. The state court in Schleswig disagreed and rejected the request.

Puigdemont remains free with certain conditions, including reporting to police once a week.

The separatist politician has been living in Berlin, frequently receiving political allies from Catalonia including his newly elected successor as regional president, Quim Torra.

The Schleswig court said it is "still open" when a final decision will be made on whether Puigdemont can be extradited. It said that the prosecutors have yet to submit a formal application to examine whether an extradition is possible.

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