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Former Catalan Leader Charles Puigdemont Released on Bail in Germany

Spain was hoping Germany would extradite Puigdemont but the German court said no dice.

After a German court decision freed Puigdemont on bail, the Former Catalan Leader Calls for ‘Dialogue’ with Madrid.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont wasted no time restarting his campaign against Madrid on Friday after he was released on bail from prison in Germany, where he had been detained pending a decision on an extradition request from Spain.

Speaking at the gates of the Neumünster prison, Puigdemont called for all Catalan “political prisoners” to be released and demanded that the Spanish authorities engage in “political dialogue” with Catalan leaders.

“It’s a shame for Europe to still have political prisoners,” he added, criticizing the Spanish authorities’ “violent and repressive response” to the Catalan independence push.

Spain’s Supreme Court had issued a European Arrest Warrant against Puigdemont on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds as part of an investigation into last year’s secession attempt in the region, which led to the Catalan leader’s arrest in Germany last month. In total, 25 Catalan leaders have been indicted in the case.

The state court in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, ruled Thursday that Puigdemont couldn’t be extradited on the charge of rebellion because the equivalent charge in German law requires evidence of sufficient violence to bend the will of authorities, which it said “is not the case here.”

If the German court goes ahead with the extradition, that would mean Puigdemont could only face trial in Spain on the charge of misuse of public funds. A speaker of the Spanish Supreme Court on Friday said they hadn’t received an official communication from the German court yet and would not comment on potential courses of action.

I do not understand that last paragraph. It would seem to me Spain could try Puigdemont for anything under Spanish law, once back in Spain.

That said, it's clear the charges of rebellion and misuse of funds are both absurd. It's equally clear that Puigdemont cannot get a fair trial in Spain.

Justice Minister Katarina Barley of Germany applauded the court’s decision to free Mr. Puigdemont on bail as “absolutely right” and what she had expected.

Ms. Barley said it was now up to Spain to prove their other charges against Mr. Puigdemont, which she said “won’t be easy.”

She said that if Spain could not prove the allegations of misuse of public funds, “then Puigdemont will be a free man in a free country — namely in Germany.”

Catalonia remains in a political deadlock more than five months after Mr. Rajoy ousted Mr. Puigdemont’s administration and placed the region under direct rule from Madrid. Separatist lawmakers have not been able to form a new administration after winning a narrow parliamentary majority in an election in December called by Mr. Rajoy.

I am pleased that Germany made the correct decision. However, the stalemate in Catalonia will linger. Rajoy is not open to dialog.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Catalonia's rebellion had to be crushed, and its leaders imprisoned or exiled. This was a rebellion against centralization and the neoliberal order. If it had succeeded, any two-bit province could decide its own what the population should value. And as we've seen all to often on this blog, that is not maximizing shareholder value.

I never understood that bit about extradition only for part of the charges either. I think Germany will extradite him eventually because its just a matter of procedure. They can't treat an arrest warrant any other way. But their decision not to keep him in detention is a real challenge to Madrid's ridiculous use of detention at home. But do the Spaniards care what the rest of Europe thinks about their use of the courts to oppose Catalan separatism? Where does separatism go next if Madrid want's to ignore election results and pleas for political negotiation? Last time, in the 30s it was war. Both sides seem to be playing out the same roles from back then. Spaniards don't seem to have changed much in 80 years.

This is also a bit confusing: "She said that if Spain could not prove the allegations of misuse of public funds, “then Puigdemont will be a free man in a free country — namely in Germany.”" So the bar for extradition is now "proving the allegations"? How is that done, short of a full trial in German court? Seems a bit extreme, not to mention anti-sovereign.

I presume that the "misuse of public funds" refers to using public funds to hold a referendum that Spain had specifically prohibited?

There must be something in the EU extradition rules that gives a country some discretion over extradition. That's opens up an examination of the charges and evidence instead of a simple transfer of the prisoner. In Canada, the courts may not extradite someone to the US if they're going to face the death penalty there because Canada doesn't have it anymore. Perhaps this sort of discretion is common in extradition.

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