Published: Sun, April 08, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Puigdemont urges Spain to open negotiations over Catalonia

Puigdemont urges Spain to open negotiations over Catalonia

The court upheld an embezzlement charge for Puigdemont. The Spanish Supreme Court earlier in March issued fresh arrest warrants against Puigdemont and some other individuals behind the independence bid.

Catalonia's former president, Carles Puigdemont, said on Saturday that Spain must "respect democracy and global treaties" in its treatment of the region and its politicians.

He said Catalan leaders have demanded dialogue for six years but have "only received a violent and repressive response".

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his government respects the decision of a German court to refuse to extradite the fugitive former leader of Catalonia on rebellion charges.

He called for "the immediate release of all my colleagues in Spanish prisons".

Since October, Puigdemont was living in Belgium.

The Supreme Court has since charged 14 Catalan separatists, including Puigdemont, with rebellion, which carries a sentence of up to 30 years.

Germany's justice minister has applauded a court's decision to free former Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont on bail, two weeks after his arrest in Germany.

The 55-year-old has walked out of the Neumuenster prison in northern Germany, nearly two weeks after he was detained crossing the border from Denmark.

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The Spanish government has accused Puigdemont of provoking an uprising by attempting to declare Catalonia an independent state after a referendum previous year the government says was illegal. Madrid is seeking his extradition under a European arrest warrant.

Catalonia's former leader Carles Puigdemont is seen with supporters after a news conference in Berlin, Germany, April 7, 2018.

On Thursday, a German court ruled that he could not be extradited on grounds of rebellion, as the equivalent charge under German law, treason, requires a defendant to have committed violence. She stressed that "the proceedings are in the judiciary's hands".

The court ordered his release on a bail of €75,000 ($91,786).

Madrid also accuses Puigdemont of misuse of public funds.

A demonstration against his still-possible extradition to Spain was also planned in the northern town of Neumuenster, where Puigdemont had been held following his arrest on March 25. The German court said it will consider his extradition on that count.

Spain would now have to prove that Puigdemont was guilty of misusing public funds, she said, adding "That won't be easy".

It wasn't immediately clear when Puigdemont will be released.

But Puigdemont could still be extradited on the misuse of public funds charge, which relates to questions about the legality of the referendum.

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