The Latest: Ex-Catalan leader must stay in Germany for now
MADRID (AP) — The Latest on Catalonia’s political struggle with Spain (all times local):
A court official in Germany says that former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont’s release from prison is conditioned on his remaining in Germany while extradition proceedings continue and reporting to police once a week.
Schleswig state court spokeswoman Frauke Holmer said Thursday that once Puigdemont makes the 75,000-euro ($92,000) bail judges set for him Thursday, he won’t be allowed to leave Germany without prosecutors’ approval, must inform prosecutors of every change of residence and report to police once a week.
The court ruled earlier Thursday that Puigdemont can be released on bail pending a decision on his extradition to Spain, saying the most serious accusation he faces there isn’t punishable under German law.
The German judges still will consider approving his extradition on a lesser charge of misuse of public funds.
It wasn’t immediately clear when Puigdemont will be released.
The Spanish government says it can’t assess the decision by a German court to release on bail the former Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont until it has more details about the ruling — but is vowing to respect it.
Spain had sought Puigdemont’s extradition from Germany after a Spanish Supreme Court judge charged the 55 year-old politician with rebellion and misuse of public funds.
But in a blow to the Spanish probe, a northern German state court ruled Thursday that the lack of violence in the Catalan independence bid meant that Puigdemont can’t be punished for rebellion under German law.
A Spanish official says the government respects judicial decisions “always, when it likes them and when it doesn’t.”
The official, who spoke under customary anonymity, said “Spanish justice will adopt the appropriate measures in the face of these new circumstances.”
— By Aritz Parra in Madrid.
A German court has ruled that former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont can be released on bail pending a decision on his possible extradition to Spain.
The state court in Schleswig said Thursday it is setting conditions including a 75,000-euro ($92,000) payment for the 55-year-old ex-president of Spain’s Catalonia region to leave prison.
Puigdemont was detained in Germany on a Spanish arrest warrant as he attempted to drive on March 25 from Finland to Belgium, where he currently resides.
The court said Thursday that Puigdemont can’t be extradited on the main charge Spain is leveling against him, that of rebellion, because the comparable German charge of treason specifies “violence.”
Madrid also accuses Puigdemont of misuse of public funds. The German court said it will consider his extradition on that count.
Former Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont has written an open letter from a German prison, urging Catalonia’s parliament to make another attempt to elect jailed separatist activist Jordi Sanchez as the region’s president.
Puigdemont had proposed Sanchez — his No. 2 in the Together for Catalonia party — last month, but Spain’s Supreme Court refused to free him to attend a parliamentary session.
The separatist majority in Catalonia’s regional parliament had wanted to elect Puigdemont as Catalan president, but he fled to Belgium to escape arrest in Spain on rebellion charges for his role in the region’s push last October to break away from Spain.
Sanchez said in a letter from a Madrid jail published Thursday that he was ready to try again to be elected.
The separatists’ maneuvers come after a string of setbacks for their ambitions since October, with Spanish courts blocking moves toward independence and bringing charges against the movement’s leaders.
The former chief of Catalonia’s regional police and other regional security officials have been charged with sedition over their role in events leading last year to a banned independence referendum.
In an indictment Thursday, Spanish National Court Judge Carmen Lamela says former Mossos d’Esquadra chief Josep Lluis Trapero was part of an organized plan to seek Catalonia’s secession from Spain.
Two more members of the regional police and an official with the regional interior department were also indicted.
Trapero was hailed in Catalonia as a local hero for the handling of deadly extremist attacks in and near Barcelona last summer.
He then came under pressure when central authorities urged the regional police to stop the Oct. 1 referendum banned by Spanish courts.