Ex-Catalan leader Puigdemont urges dialogue with Spain

Charlene Craig
April 8, 2018

The German judges still will consider approving his extradition on a lesser charge of misuse of public funds.

Puigdemont is expected to be released on bail Friday pending extradition proceedings, once he posts a 75,000-euro ($92,000) payment.

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley has praised the court's decision, telling the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday that the judges' decision was "absolutely right".

The Schwesig state court decided the charge of rebellion did not warrant extradition, but Puigdemont can still be extradited on the less serious charge of misuse of funds to hold Catalonia's banned independence referendum.

A Spanish official says the government respects judicial decisions "always, when it likes them and when it doesn't".

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Puigdemont contended that Spanish authorities have "no excuses" not to talk with Catalan leaders "in order to find a political solution of our demands, not by criminal law".

— By Aritz Parra in Madrid.

The 55-year-old separatist leader was caught on the entry of Germany from Denmark on March 25 en route to his residence in Belgium.

The court said Thursday that Puigdemont can't be extradited on the main charge Spain is leveling against him, that of rebellion, because the comparable German charge of treason specifies "violence".

Following his release on bail from a German prison, Puigdemont also called for the immediate release of other Catalan separatist leaders being held in Spain.

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Torrent had earlier proposed Sanchez but the first attempt failed last month when a Spanish judge refused to release Sanchez from custody to attend the vote in the Barcelona-based chamber. Several ministers of the former Catalan government were arrested, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest.

Sanchez said in a letter from a Madrid jail published Thursday that he was ready to try again to be elected.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, urged Spanish authorities to refrain from pursuing the criminal charge of rebellion against political figures and protesters in Catalonia that carries a jail sentence of up to 30 years.

The former chief of Catalonia's regional police and other regional security officials have been charged with sedition over their role in events leading a year ago to a banned independence referendum.

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