Catalan ex-leader arrested in Germany on Spanish warrant

26 March, 2018, 01:23 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Puigdemont takes part in a meeting with his party in Brussels

On October 27, the Catalan government voted to declare independence from Spain.

Scotland's leader says officials are legally obliged to follow the extradition procedures for a fugitive Catalan politician in Scotland, even though her government strongly opposes Spain's decision to arrest and imprison Catalonia's separatist leaders. Protesters also turned out in the northern city of Girona, where Puigdemont was mayor before he became regional president in 2016. The ex-head of Catalonia is now being held at a police station.

Puidgemont could take his case to Germany's highest court, which had in 2005 blocked the extradition to Spain on an European Union arrest warrant of a German-Syrian al-Qaeda suspect.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

They said "Mr. Puigdemont is now in police custody" and refused to give further details.

German magazine Focus said Spanish intelligence informed the BKA federal police that Puigdemont was on his way from Finland to Germany.

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Puigdemont had entered Germany from Denmark after leaving Finland Friday when it appeared police would arrest him there and begin an extradition process requested by Spain.

The detention comes at a tense moment in Catalonia.

Puidgemont's arrest follows fresh legal action against separatist politicians from the wealthy northeastern region and it is coming after a Spanish High Court detained five Catalan politicians for their role in the region's secessionist bid staged in October previous year.

Albert Rivera, the leader of the centrist party Ciudadanos which was set up in Catalonia to fight against separatism, welcomed Puigdemont's arrest, saying the justice system was "doing its job".

Arrimadas said: "Puigdemont knew that fracturing Catalan society into two parts, spending public money on illegal activities, provoking a political and institutional crisis without precedents and confronting a 21st-century democracy of the European Union was going to have consequences".

Police in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein said highway police detained Puigdemont on Sunday morning near the A7 highway that leads from Denmark into Germany.

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His lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, confirmed to The Associated Press that German police stopped Puigdemont on Sunday when he was crossing the border.

The Catalan leader has been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since he fled Spain five months ago amid the uproar over the referendum. Arrest warrants have also been issued for five other Catalan separatists.

He had wanted to be re-elected as Catalonia's regional boss- albeit while remaining overseas to avoid arrest - but the Constitutional Court in Madrid ruled earlier that a presidential candidate must be present in parliament for the vote in order to take up the post.

Separatists in Catalonia are now trying to elect a leader for the regional government before a two-month time limit is up and new elections are called.

Spain's Supreme Court ruled on Friday that 25 Catalan leaders would be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobeying the state.

Polls show Catalans are equally divided on the secession issue, with pro-secession parties maintaining a slim hold on the regional legislature in December elections.

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