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23rd Nov 2019

Puigdemont awaits German extradition decision

  • Pro-Catalan protesters in Berlin at the weekend (Photo: Montecruz Foto)

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont could hear this week whether it is likely that he will be extradited to Spain, German media reported on Tuesday (3 April).

The DPA news agency said that the prosecutor general in Schleswig-Holstein was expected to announce this week if it would ask the state's high court if Puigdemont should be imprisoned while it decides on extradition.

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Spanish agency EFE quoted the deputy prosecutor general saying the decision could be announced as soon as Tuesday.

Puigdemont was arrested in Germany last month, after being in self-imposed exile in Belgium for almost six months. That arrest was under a European arrest warrant, which gives the fellow EU country up to sixty days to decide on extradition.

Spanish authorities want Puigdemont for trial over his calling of the 1 October 2017 referendum on Catalan independence, which Spain's highest court had ruled to be illegal. Following the vote, which was marred with police violence, the Catalan parliament declared independence.

Puigdemont spoke from prison to two far left German MPs over the weekend. A recording of the conversation was given to Catalan public radio.

"As a message I would like to say that we have to go on, we have to go on the way we are, defending our rights, rights that are recognised by the UN as we have a total right to decide our future," Puigdemont reportedly said.

"We cannot let down our guard before a state that is becoming more and more authoritarian and that is curtailing our rights," he noted.

"Let's go on doing things the way we do them, which is non-violent and civilised as we have shown the world in the past years. That is how Catalans do things."

The same day, the German branch of the Catalan National Assembly organised a protest in Berlin, calling for Puigdemont's release.

Meanwhile, the leading Spanish newspaper El Pais said in an opinion piece published on Monday that Germany should extradite Puigdemont, lumping pro-independence Catalans together with populist anti-EU forces.

"Catalan secessionists are no different from Nigel Farage's Brexiters, Marine Le Pen's National Front supporters, Italy's Lega Nord or Germany's AFD," wrote Jose Torreblanca.

"They want to exclude those whom they see as different, poorer and inferior to them and not pay taxes to the common treasury," he added.

The author also pointed out that European institutions have not reprimanded Spain for breaking the rule of law or infringing minority rights.

"But should they, Spain would abide by their decision and act to fix their instructions. Which is why it makes sense for German courts to extradite Puigdemont and for the German public to support the move," he noted.

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Selecting in which country to execute a European Arrest Warrant - as Spain appears to have done in the Puigdemont case - sets worrying precedents as EU states such as Poland and Hungary diverge from the rule of law.

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