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German court rejects Puigdemont extradition to Spain for rebellion

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German court rejects Puigdemont extradition to Spain for rebellion

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The offence of rebellion has been ruled out by a German court in relation to Spain’s extradition request against Catalonia’s former prime minister Carles Puigdemont.

The court in Schleswig-Holstein in the north of the country ruled that the man wanted by Madrid for his role in last year’s declaration of independence can be freed on bail of €75,000.

The charge of misuse of public funds remains possible as grounds for extradition, the judges said, but the more serious charge of rebellion was ruled inadmissible as German law deems violence necessary for such an offence to have been committed.

The German system is still studying Spain’s extradition request. Puigdemont is being freed because he has been deemed much less of a flight risk, now that rebellion has been ruled out, the court said. He has been ordered to stay in Germany while extradition proceedings continue.

Reuters quoted a Spanish government spokeswoman as having said earlier that Madrid respected the German court’s decision.

But neither the Spanish government nor the country’s Supreme Court would confirm that this meant the ex-Catalan leader could not now face trial for rebellion – which can bring up to 25 years in prison in Spain.

Puigdemont’s German lawyer said the separatist politician was arranging the transfer of the bail money to Germany.

He was arrested after entering Germany on his way back from Finland to Belgium, where he had been living in self-imposed exile after fleeing Spain five months ago.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed Puigdemont’s regional administration in the wake of the Catalan referendum and subsequent declaration of independence, illegal under the Spanish constitution.