Catalonia's ex-leader appears before judge in Germany

Former Catalan Leader Will Stay in German Jail

Former Catalan Leader Will Stay in German Jail

Guentge said the judge on Monday rejected the motion from Puigdemont's lawyer, but the issues can be raised again during the formal extradition process than begins now.

Issuing the warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena accused the ousted Catalan leader of organising an independence referendum in October past year despite a ban from Madrid and the risk of violence.

"The warrant has some points indicating that under a thorough review balancing the legal issues, the extradition may have to be ruled illicit", the court said in an emailed statement. "Flouting the rules of a (European Union) member state is also a crime in Germany".

The closed-door hearing came amid heightened tensions in the Spanish region following Puigdemont's arrest on a European warrant Sunday following his entry into Germany from Denmark.

Monday's ruling is only the start of a cascade of court procedures in Germany over his fate that could drag on for months.

The arrest comes five months after Puigdemont went on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him with sedition and rebellion in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.

Spain's deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, says the arrest of the ousted Catalan separatist president in Germany is "good news" because "nobody can infinitely mock justice". It's claiming, for now, to be staying out of the court's decision.

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The former Catalan president's detention in Germany was hailed by anti-separatist forces as a decisive blow against the push for Catalan independence. According to Puigdemont's lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, Puigdemont had covered 1,300 kilometres of the auto journey from Helsinki to Brussels when he was stopped at 11:20 a.m., at a petrol station, 50 kilometres into German territory.

The court said, however, that there questions about the ultimate outcome of the Spanish extradition request.

First it is up to state prosecutors in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein to examine the three charges against the politician.

If they find the extradition is valid, Puigdemont's lawyers can challenge the warrant in court. "A decision should not be expected before Easter". However, authorities examining a European arrest warrant need to check whether the offense a suspect is accused of committing is equivalent to a criminal offense in the country where he was arrested.

Rebellion isn't on that list, so the judges need to determine whether the charge against Puigdemont is also a crime under German law. On the two relevant charges, embezzlement may be valid grounds while treason charges under German law require perpetrator links to violence or incitement to violence.

Even as Mr Puigdemont was remanded to a German prison, independence parties called for an urgent parliamentary session to push through a reform allowing for his long-distance inauguration, in defiance of a ban on such a move from Spain's Constitutional Court. "I'm afraid they will duck out of it".

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