German court authorises extradition of Carles Puigdemont

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

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 accusation of misuse of public funds is acceptable, extradition for rebellion is not acceptable", the German court stated in a press release. However, the court will do so only on the charges of misuse of public funds that the Spanish authorities have filed against him, and not for the crime of rebellion.

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

Puigdemont fled to Brussels after Spanish courts issued a warrant for his arrest over his role in Catalonia's declaration of independence last October.

Since his arrest in Germany, Spain has been trying to see Puigdemont extradited.

A second charge of rebellion did not warrant an extradition from Germany to Spain, the court ruled.

"We have defeated the main lie given by the state". The court argued that the nearest German equivalent, high treason, was not applicable as Puigdemont had not caused or instigated violence.

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According to German law, a person can be extradited only if charges against him/her are punishable in Germany. "The scale of the violence needed for high treason was not reached during the disturbances". "Breach of the public peace does not apply because Carles Puigdemont was only involved in carrying out the [independence] referendum", the court said in a statement, adding that he was not a "spiritual leader" of violence.

"Every minute that our companions spend in prison is a minute of shame and injustice".

The Spanish government rejects Catalan independence. "It will be in Europe where we win".

"Catalan political prisoners should be freed NOW", he said.

Catalonia's current separatist President Quim Torra, who is close to Puigdemont, tweeted that "once more the machinations and lies of a judicial case that never should have started have come to light".

English version by Simon Hunter.

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