German court says Carles Puigdemont extradition is permissable

A German court has authorised the extradition to Spain of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

In its Thursday ruling, the Schleswig-Holstein court said that the acts for which Puigdemont stands accused do not amount to high treason nor a breach of public peace according to German law.

German state prosecutors still have to formally decide on the extradition request, but said in a statement that they would do so "soon" and did not plan on appealing the ruling. Mr Puigdemont was arrested in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, on March 25 on a European arrest warrant.

Puigdemont has been in Germany after fleeing Spain for Belgium a year ago in the wake of the unilateral declaration of independence passed by the Catalan regional government. He was arrested on his way back from a trip to Finland.

He is wanted in Spain for alleged misuse of public funds in relation to Catalonia's independence declaration, as well as "rebellion" in organising a referendum that Madrid deemed illegal.

"However, in authorising Mr Puigdemont's extradition for the offence of misuse of public funds, it seems that the German court rejected, or was unable to consider, whether extradition should be refused on the basis that the prosecution was politically motivated".

A German court on Thursday removed a hurdle to the extradition of a prominent Catalan politician on charges of embezzlement, setting the stage for a possible trial in Spain but on lesser charges than prosecutors there had hoped for. "The scale of the violence needed for high treason was not reached during the disturbances".

"We have defeated the main lie sustained by the state", Puigdemont tweeted.

If Puigdemont is extradited, the Supreme Court in charge of the case will not be able to try him for rebellion, which would be a severe setback for Spain.

"Every minute spent by our colleagues in prison is a minute of shame and injustice. We will fight until the end, and we will win!"

He went on to claim that both shared the "same goal" of independence, despite 55 per cent of voters in Scotland rejecting the proposal in 2014.

Catalonia's current separatist President Quim Torra, who is close to Puigdemont, tweeted that "once more the machinations and lies of a judicial case that never should have started have come to light". "It will be in Europe where we win".

English version by Simon Hunter.

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