A German court ruled on July 12 that fugitive former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is to be extradited to Spain to face corruption charges stemming from an illegal secession referendum that Puigdemont organised in Catalonia in October 2017.
Spain has charges Puigdemont with sedition as well as corruption, but the scope of the extradition means that the former Catalan president will only stand trial on charges that he misused Spanish tax-payers funds to carry out a referendum that violated the country’s constitution and overstepped the legal statutes of Catalonia’s autonomous status within Spain.
Puigdemont’s defence team hailed the decision of the court in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein as an indirect recognition that the Catalan independence referendum did not constitute a rebellion.
German law stipulates that a person can be extradited if the arrest warrant issued is also punishable in Germany. In Germany “rebellion” per se is not an offence, while “high treason” entails instigation of violence, which the court ruled was not the bookish Puigdemont’s intention when he moved to break away from Madrid.
Immediately after being charged with inciting a rebellion, only days after holding the widely condemned and international unrecognised referendum, Puigdemont fled to Brussels, a move that was heavily criticised even by those who had been his secessionist allies in the lead-up to the vote.
Puigdemont was arrested in Germany on a European arrest warrant while transiting through the country in March. After not being deemed a flight risk, Puigdemont’s legal team told the Catalan News Agency that they are planning to appeal the decision.