Saturday, 23 February, 2019

German arrests Ex-Catalan leader

German police arrest former Catalan leader Former Catalan President Puigdemont Detained in Germany
Andrew Cummings | 26 March, 2018, 00:57

German police say they have detained fugitive Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on a European arrest warrant.

He was detained by police after he crossed the border into Germany from Denmark, Puigdemont's lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, wrote on Twitter.

Puigdemont has been in exile in Belgium since a year ago, when he fled Spain after declaring Catalonia's unilateral independence from Spain following a regional referendum deemed illegal by Madrid.

The Catalan parliament's subsequent declaration of independence received no global recognition and provoked a takeover of the regional government by Spanish authorities that they say won't be lifted until a new government that respects Spain's Constitution is in place. German police arrested Catalonia's deposed leader Carles Puigdemont on March 25, 2018, five months after he went into self-imposed exile in Belgium over his failed bid to break the region away from Spain.

Police did not say exactly where Puigdemont was being held but the Spanish press said he was at a police station in the nearby town of Schuby.

His spokesperson Joan Maria Pique told Reuteurs news agency "the president was going to Belgium to put himself, as always, at the disposal of Belgian justice".

Ralph Döpper, deputy state prosecutor in Schleswig-Holstein, confirmed the politician was in police custody while authorities decided whether to act on the warrant.

Mr Puigdemont was detained while travelling from Finland back to Belgium, where he has been living since October.

Albert Rivera, the leader of the centrist party Ciudadanos which was set up in Catalonia to fight against separatism, welcomed Puigdemont's arrest.

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Polls show Catalans are nearly evenly divided on the issue of independence but the vast majority back holding a legal referendum to settle the question.

In Barcelona, riot police shoved and struck protesters with batons to keep an angry crowd from advancing on the office of the Spanish government's representative.

On Friday, another worldwide arrest warrant was issued, and on Saturday Puigdemont's lawyer confirmed that the separatist leader had left Finland, where he had been holding meetings.

The former president, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Brussels since last October, was in a auto on the way from Finland to Belgium when he was detained. Their detention sparked protests across Catalonia.

A Spanish Supreme Court judge reactivated an global arrest warrant for Puigdemont on Friday when he was visiting Finland.

Puigdemont's supporters, however, lamented his capture and said they hoped Germany won't honor Spain's extradition request.

The Schleswig prosecutor's office said "the question of whether Mr Puigdemont has to be taken into extradition custody, will then have to be determined by the higher regional court in Schleswig".

On Friday, Spain's Supreme Court ruled that a total of 25 Catalan leaders would be tried "for rebellion, embezzlement or disobedience".

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