Catalonia′s Carles Puigdemont calls on Madrid to ′respect democracy′ | News | DW | 07.04.2018
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Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont calls on Madrid to 'respect democracy'

Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont has called for "negotiation based on mutual respect" with Madrid. He was speaking a day after his release on bail from a German prison.

Catalonia's former president, Carles Puigdemont, said on Saturday that Spain must "respect democracy and international treaties" in its treatment of the region and its politicians.

Speaking at a press conference following his release on bail from German prison on Friday, Puigdemont also called for "negotiation based on mutual respect" on Catalonia's bid for independence.

He also said that Spain must "comply with UN resolutions" and release political prisoners, alluding to several Catalan separatist politicians who were imprisoned after unilaterally declaring Catalonia's independence from Spain last year.

He said that although he hoped to return to live in Belgium once the legal process was over in Germany, he intended to remain in Berlin while proceedings continued. He added that once in Belgium, he would resume his "activities in exile."

As he spoke, a group of supporters had gathered outside the refugee advocacy center in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, where the conference was held.

Read more: Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont: 'Puigdi's' deep political roots

Extradition controversy

German authorities are still considering whether to extradite Puigdemont to Spain after he was arrested on March 25 on an arrest warrant issued by Madrid while he was traveling through Germany. The Spanish government accuses him of "rebellion" and misuse of public funds for organizing an illegal independence referendum in Catalonia in October.

A German court on Thursday rejected an extradition request for Puigdemont on the charge of rebellion for his role in the campaign for the region's independence

Puigdemont was released on bail on Friday

On Thursday, a German court ruled that he could not be extradited on grounds of rebellion, as the equivalent charge under German law, treason, requires a defendant to have committed violence.

Puigdemont could still face extradition on the other charge of misuse of public funds. However, if he is sent back to face trial on that charge, under European law he will no longer be able to be prosecuted in Spain for rebellion.

Spanish appeal

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley has praised the court's decision, telling the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday that the judges' decision was "absolutely right." 

Her comment was quickly criticized as "unfortunate" by Spain's foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis.

"We feel that comments on judges' decisions at this point are not appropriate," he told reporters in the southern Spanish city of Seville.

The Spanish Supreme Court is considering appealing to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on extradition procedures among EU member states.

A demonstration was planned in the northern German town of Neumünster, where Puigdemont had been held since his detention, against his still-possible extradition.

Read more: Opinion: Carles Puigdemont decision is a devastating precedent for Europe 

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Excerpt of press conference by former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont in Berlin

tj/jlw (dpa, AFP, AP)

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