Former Catalan Leader Charles Puigdemont Released on Bail in Germany
Mike Mish Shedlock
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