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German court extends detention of exiled Catalan leader Puigdemont

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By Tokunbo Salako  & Richard Good  with Reuters
Carles Puigdemont arrives at Neumuenster prison
Carles Puigdemont arrives at Neumuenster prison

The exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has had his detention extended after appearing before a German court.

Puigdemont will remain in custody pending a decision on whether he will be sent back to Spain on sedition and rebellion charges. It's the start of extradition proceedings that could take months.

"He appeared calm and composed," said Schleswig city prosecutor Georg-Freidrich Guentge when asked outside the court to describe Puigdemont's appearance.

Catalonia's former leader was arrested on a European warrant on Sunday while crossing into the country from Denmark.

His lawyer says he would prefer to face any judicial process in Belgium.

"There are a lot of arguments for Germany to reject the European arrest warrant, most of all because it is being used to jail political opponents," says Puigdemont's lawyer Paul Bekaert. "They will also take into account I guess that Spain is slipping into a dictatorship, and that there is no longer democracy because those elected are being put in prison."

In Barcelona on Sunday night an estimated 55,000 demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the arrest.

Chanting "Freedom for the political prisoners" and "This Europe is shameful!", the crowd marched on the offices of the European Commission and the German consulate.

17 people were reportedly injured in clashes with police.

Tensions were already running high in Catalonia. On Friday there were mass protests after separatist leaders were forced to abandon plans to name a new president after the arrest of the latest candidate, Jordi Turell.