Germany to extradite former premier Carles Puigdemont for misuse of public funds

Carles Puigdemont was living in self-imposed exile in Belgium following the failed independence bid until his arrest in Germany in March

The court argued that the nearest German equivalent, high treason, was not applicable as Puigdemont had not caused or instigated violence.

A court in the northern German state of Schleswig Holstein has decided today to extradite former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont to Spain.

"We have defeated the main lie given by the state".

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.

A spokeswoman confirmed: "The Higher Regional Court this morning has decided that an extradition for the alleged misappropriation of public funds is allowed". The court said in its ruling that he can remain free.

The former Catalan president fled Spain for Belgium in October after his administration's declaration of independence from Spain led to the central government in Madrid taking direct control of the regional government.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution by the Spanish judiciary.

The current Catalan regional premier, Quim Torra, a hard-line supporter of Catalan independence, was quick to voice his reaction to the news via Twitter.

Also present was St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati, who is fighting extradition on charges of "violent rebellion" after helping organise last year's Catalan referendum.

Responding to the court decision, German prosecutors said they would soon decide whether to authorize the extradition of Puigdemont, who was arrested in March while traveling through Germany.

He said: "Rebellion is not an offence recognised under the EU-wide European Framework Decision, which created the European Arrest Warrant".

The decision of the German court is not final, and sources from Puigdemont's legal team have told EL PAÍS that they are planning to appeal the decision to extradite him for misuse of funds at the country's Constitutional Court.

He therefore can not be extradited on a "rebellion" charge and, if he is returned to Spain, Spanish authorities can not prosecute Puigdemont based on that accusation.

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