Exiled Catalan ex-leader Puigdemont hopes to return to Belgium

09 April, 2018, 01:10 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • A protester wears a mask of ousted separatist president Carles Puigdemont during a demonstration in Barcelona

In his press conference, Puigdemont called for worldwide mediation and talks over the future of Catalonia, saying Spanish government should have "respect for democracy". Several ministers of the former Catalan government were arrested, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest.

A smiling Puigdemont emerged into the sunshine from the prison in Neumuenster, where he has been held for almost two weeks, thanking staff "for their professionality and for their respect" and the inmates for "their solidarity and help for me to adapt quickly to the situation".

He said he hoped to return to live in Belgium once the legal process was over in Germany but that he meant to remain in Berlin while proceedings continued.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has made a renewed call for Spanish authorities to open negotiations over the region's secession bid.

"We feel that comments on judges' decisions at this point are not appropriate", he told reporters in the southern Spanish city of Seville.

"My plan is to remain of course in Berlin". The court has concluded that extradition to Spain was not possible on the charge of "rebellion", since it did not see evidence that Puigdemont meant to use force to gain Catalan independence.

Puigdemont was detained by police in northern Germany on March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark. "It is my residence now until the end of this process", he added.




The German court's decision to release Puigdemont on bail is a setback for the Spanish judiciary's efforts to crack down on the separatist movement.

The German court decided the charge of rebellion did not warrant extradition, because the accusation isn't punishable under German law.

Barley said it was now up to Spain to prove their embezzlement charges against Puigdemont, which she said "won't be easy".

"It is an embarrassment for Europe that we still have political prisoners", Puigdemont said referencing the pro-independence Catalan political and social leaders who have been jailed after the referendum.

However, Puigdemont may yet face extradition on separate charges of misusing government funds during his time in office.

He says the Spanish government "met its obligations" by imposing direct rule on Catalonia after Puigdemont and other separatists organized the independence referendum previous year.

The Spanish Supreme Court is considering appealing to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on extradition procedures among EU member states.

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