Former Catalan leader can be extradited on corruption charges, German court rules

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

A court in the northern German state of Schleswig Holstein has decided today to extradite former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont to Spain.

Catalonia's deposed leader Carles Puigdemont said on Thursday he and other separatists would "fight until the end" after a German court chose to allow his extradition, but not on the severe charge of rebellion demanded by a Spanish judge.

The former Catalan president fled Spain for Belgium in October after his administration's declaration of independence from Spain led to the central government in Madrid taking direct control of the regional government. The court argued that the nearest German equivalent, high treason, was not applicable as Puigdemont had not caused or instigated violence.

The Spanish government rejects Catalan independence.

Rebellion carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while misuse of public funds carries up to 12 years.

The Schleswig-Holstein court said that the acts for which Puigdemont stands accused do not amount to high treason nor a breach of peace in German law.

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German state prosecutors still have to formally decide on the extradition request, but said in a statement that they would do so "soon" and did not plan on appealing the ruling.

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

The court has not made a decision to impose any precautionary measures on Puigdemont, meaning that he remains a free man.

If Puigdemont is extradited, the Supreme Court in charge of the case will not be able to try him for rebellion, which would be a severe setback for Spain. 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. "He remains free. And there are options to rebut the embezzlement".

A source in Puigdemont's legal team said the former Catalan leader would appeal a decision to extradite him from Germany on any charge. "It shows once more the deception and lies of a court case that should never have been started", he wrote. "We will win in Europe", Torra tweeted.

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