A German court made a decision to allow the extradition of Catalan separatist leaderCarles Puigdemont to Spain, on a charge of misuse of public funds, a blow to the Spanish authorities' bid to bring him back to stand trial on the more serious charge of rebellion.
"The court decided this morning that an extradition due to the accusation of misuse of public funds is permissible", said the spokeswoman. In March, he was detained in Germany on a European arrest warrant while traveling through the country.
Puigdemont and several other former Catalan leaders have been accused by Spanish authorities of misusing funds by holding the independence referendum last October, which Madrid described as illegal. He was arrested on his way back from a trip to Finland.More news: Chelsea strike gentlemen's agreement with Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri
If Puigdemont is extradited, the Supreme Court in charge of the case will not be able to try him for rebellion, which would be a severe setback for Spain.
He and a number of his former colleagues are facing charges for their role in the pro-independence drive, which reached its peak previous year with an illegal referendum on secession from Spain and the aforementioned declaration. In Spain, he could face imprisonment.
The Spanish government rejects Catalan independence. "It shows once more the deception and lies of a court case that should never have been started", he wrote.More news: Timeline: Thai cave rescue
Responding to the court decision, prosecutors said they would soon decide whether to authorise the extradition of Mr Puigdemont.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo told a news conference that there was no possibility of a referendum on independence for the northeast region, of which Barcelona is the capital. The laws of most countries do not criminalise rebellion, with the result that there is no "dual criminality" between Spain and Germany. "We will fight to the end, and we will win!", Puigdemont said, referring to other pro-independence Catalan leaders in detention. But the process has been delayed given the German court's doubts over an equivalent to rebellion under German law - a requirement for him to be handed over to Spain on that charge - and the evidence that had been supplied by the Spanish courts to back the charges.
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