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German court formally closes Puigdemont case

July 20, 2018

A German regional court has formally ended its investigation into former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, after Spanish authorities waived their extradition request. Officials said Puigdemont was free to leave Germany.

Carles Puigdemont in Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen

Carles Puigdemont is allowed to leave Germany after a regional court on Friday formally ended extradition proceedings against the exiled former Catalan leader.

The court in the northern German town of Schleswig announced it was closing its case, a day after the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid dropped its extradition request against Puigdemont and five other Catalan lawmakers wanted on rebellion charges.

"Mr. Puigdemont can leave Germany with this," a court spokeswoman told reporters in Schleswig. 

Puigdemont has been free on bail for most of the time since his arrest in March, but had to regularly report to local authorities and was barred from leaving Germany without the prosecutor's permission.

The former Catalan president was detained just south of the German-Danish border as he traveled by car back from Finland to Belgium, where he had fled to from Spain last year.

Spanish warrants still open

Spanish prosecutors had issued a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and the five other politicians for their role organizing last October's "illegal" referendum on Catalan independence, as well as the regional parliament's subsequent declaration of secession from Spain.

The six faced charges of rebellion, which in Spain carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Read more: Spain's new government lifts financial controls on Catalonia

However, prosecutors in Madrid withdrew their request after the court in Schleswig ruled last week that Puigdemont could not be extradited on the most serious charge of rebellion, but only for the lesser charges related to the misuse of public funds to hold last October's referendum on Catalan secession.

Although the international and European warrants have been dropped, the Spanish warrants remain open, meaning the lawmakers will be detained if they try to re-enter Spain.

On Friday, Puigdemont was reported to be in Hamburg. He has indicated he intends to return to Brussels.

dm/tj (dpa, AP, AFP)

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