The Latest: Catalan parliament backs jailed activist
BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on Catalonia’s bid to secede from Spain (all times local):
The speaker of Catalonia’s regional parliament has again put forward a jailed separatist activist to be elected as the northeast Spanish region’s new leader.
Speaker Roger Torrent said Saturday he will propose Jordi Sanchez as the regional presidential candidate, even though Sanchez is detained for his part in an illegal— and unsuccessful— secession bid by Catalonia last year.
Torrent had earlier proposed Sanchez but the first attempt failed last month when a Spanish judge refused to release Sanchez from custody to attend the vote in the Barcelona-based chamber.
Sanchez, a prominent secessionist, has been in a Madrid prison along with other separatist leaders since October.
Separatists held onto their parliamentary majority in December elections but courts have blocked their attempts to only elect as leader lawmakers who are either fugitives from the country or currently behind bars.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his government respects the decision of a German court to refuse to extradite the fugitive former leader of Catalonia on rebellion charges.
Rajoy says on Saturday that his government upholds and abides by court rulings in Spain and elsewhere.
A German court ruled on Thursday that it would only consider extraditing ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on the charge of misuse of public funds to hold a banned referendum on independence for Catalonia last year.
Rajoy’s position was not shared by the leading politician of his conservative Popular Party in Catalonia.
Xavier Garcia-Albiol says that the decision not to extradite Puigdemont on rebellion could hurt the “confidence” Spaniards have in “European institutions.”
Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is urging Spanish authorities to allow jailed separatist activist Jordi Sanchez to be elected as new regional president of the wealthy northeastern region.
Puigdemont renewed calls to back Sanchez at a press conference in Berlin Saturday, a day after he was released on bail from a German prison. A German court refused to extradite him on charges on rebellion, but is considering Spain’s request to extradite him on the lesser charge of misuse of funds.
Separatists in Catalonia’s regional parliament already tried to elect Sanchez as regional chief but their efforts were blocked by a judge last month.
Separatist politicians are considering a second attempt to elect Sanchez after being emboldened by a German court’s decision not to extradite Puigdemont.
Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has made a renewed call for Spanish authorities to open negotiations over the region’s secession bid.
Puigdemont, who was released on bail from a German prison Friday, says he hopes a German court’s decision to not extradite him to Spain on charges of rebellion shows that “dialogue is needed” to defuse the political conflict in his home country.
A German court is deciding whether Puigdemont should be extradited on the lesser charge of misuse of public funds to hold a banned referendum on independence for Catalonia last year.
Puigdemont was detained on a European arrest warrant after entering Germany on March 25. He was trying to drive from Finland to Belgium, where he had been living since fleeing to escape arrest in Spain.
Germany’s justice minister has applauded a court’s decision to free former Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont on bail, two weeks after his arrest in Germany.
Katarina Barley told daily Sueddeutsche on Saturday the judges’ decision was “absolutely right” and what she’d expected.
Spain is seeking Puigdemont’s extradition for rebellion and misuse of public funds in organizing an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
The German court decided the charge of rebellion did not warrant extradition, because the accusation isn’t punishable under German law. Puigdemont can still be extradited on the less serious charge of misuse of funds.
Barley said it was now up to Spain to prove their embezzlement charges against Puigdemont, which she said “won’t be easy.”