Catalan Parliament Vice President Josep Costa condemns arrest of Carles Puigdemont | News | DW | 25.03.2018
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Catalan Parliament Vice President Josep Costa condemns arrest of Carles Puigdemont

Josep Costa said Madrid was interfering in the democratic process as Catalonia tries to form a regional government. The exiled Catalan leader Puigdemont has been arrested in Germany on an international arrest warrant.

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'The Spanish government is cracking down on elected politicians' - Josep Costa, Vice President of the Catalan Parliament, speaks to DW

Vice President of the Catalan Parliament Josep Costa condemned Sunday's arrest of exiled leader Carles Puigdemont in an interview with DW.

German police arrested Puigdemont after he crossed the Danish border on Sunday, sparking massive protests across Catalonia that saw scores injured in the clashes with the security forces.

If the former Catalan president is extradited he faces up to 25 years in prison in Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition for organizing an illegal independence referendum last year.

Costa told DW the arrest was politically motivated and that he hoped German courts would see the charges as a politically motivated order.

"This is about the right of the people to elect their own government, it's not about independence," Costa said. "We now have a parliament that was elected in December that is trying to elect a government."

Read more: Catalan independence - What you need to know

Protesters in Barcelona were quick to condemn the arrest of Puigdemont

Protesters in Barcelona were quick to condemn the arrest of Puigdemont

Just trying to a form a government

Costa condemned Spanish courts for detaining Catalonia's presidential candidate, Jordi Turull, as the parliament attempted to elect him into office.

"There is a clear majority to elect a government, and the Spanish courts, by government intervention, have blocked the parliament from electing a government. We're not declaring independence right now, we're trying to elect a government based on the vote of the December election."

Nine other Catalan separatist leaders are in jail and five have gone into exile.

Read more: Who is former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont?

German politicians call for release

Some German politicians demanded the immediate release of Puigdemont. Andrej Hunko, Member of the Bundestag and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for The Left party, called the arrest a "disgrace." 

"The crime of rebellion does not exist in Germany," he said.

Wolfgang Kubicki from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) made similar comments.

However, high treason, which can be similar to rebellion, is a crime in Germany.

In Catalonia, authorities said 52 people were injured in clashes with police and in protests outside the German consulate as doctored images of Chancellor Angela Merkel sporting a Hitler moustache were shown.

Catalonia's parliamentary speaker, Roger Torrent, called for a "wide social and democratic front to defend the rights and freedoms" against a Spanish attack on the "heart of democracy."

aw/jm (dpa, EFE)

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