German prosecutors request Puigdemont's extradition

Puigdemont faces up to 25 years behind bars if extradited

German prosecutors yesterday asked a court to order the extradition to Spain of Catalonia's ousted president Carles Puigdemont on a rebellion charge following his arrest in Germany last month.

Puigdemont was arrested by German police on March 25 as he was travelling from Finland back to Belgium, where he has been living in self-imposed exile since Catalonia's failed independence bid last October.

However, the prosecutor's office said that "after intensive review" it concluded that the rebellion charge "contains in essence the accusation of calling an unconstitutional referendum despite violent riots that could be expected", hence matching the German charge of "treason". "This has a comparable equivalent in German law", a statement from prosecutors declared.

The charges he faces could lead to up to 25 years behind bars.

The decision on whether Germany will proceed to extradite Puigdemont will be made by the Regional Superior Court of Schleswig-Holstein. Global arrest warrants are active against four other politicians who fled overseas previous year, including Carla Ponsati, a former Catalan education minister and nationalist leader, who is fighting extradition from her current place of residence in Scotland.

The German government has rejected calls from Puigdemont's lawyer to get involved.

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However, other German parties have said the extradition is a matter for German courts.

"We will continue to work to build a free country, to ensure we have a society with less injustice, more equality, more solidarity and more fraternity with all the peoples of the world, starting with the peoples of Spain with whom we want to remain connected through respect and mutual recognition", he said in an audio recording handed to a German MP who visited him in prison.

In an interview from jail, published on Monday, Mr Puigdemont insisted the campaign for the Spanish region's independence was nonviolent.

Puigdemont's lawyers argue that a referendum is not a criminal offence. He also appealed against the charge of mis-use of public funds.

It is not immediately clear when the court will rule on his possible extradition.

The Catalan separatist leadership, including Puigdemont, claim they will not be given a fair trial in Spain and are being prosecuted for their political beliefs.

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