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German court orders Carles Puigdemont's release on bail

06 April 2018

A court official in Germany says that former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's release from prison is conditioned on his remaining in Germany while extradition proceedings continue and reporting to police once a week.

Judges "believe that in regard to the allegation of rebellion, extradition is illegal" as Puigdemont was not personally involved in violent acts during a referendum on Catalan independence last October, making his actions not punishable under German law, they said in a statement.

The court however added that concerning the charge of Puigdemont's misusing of public funds, Germany could "theoretically" extradite him to Spain but a decision still has to be made.

The district court in Schleswig on Thursday set bail for the 55-year-old at €75,000 (£66,000), as reported by The Guardian.

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Puigdemont entered Germany on his way back from Finland to Belgium, where he is living in self-imposed exile.

A Spanish government spokeswoman said earlier that Spain respects the German court's decision.

Spanish authorities accuse Puigdemont of rebellion and misuse of public funds in organising an unauthorised referendum previous year on the region's secession.

Spain charged top Catalan separatists over October's independence referendum.

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The judge also slapped sedition charges on two other top officials with the regional police force, as well as an official with the Catalan interior ministry.

However, the court disagreed Thursday, saying Puigdemont can't be extradited for rebellion.

Judge Carmen Lamela of the National Court, which deals with high-profile political and financial cases, said in her ruling there was evidence that former Mossos d'Esquadra chief Josep Lluis Trapero was part of a "criminal organisation" that sought to break Catalonia away from Spain.

The Spanish government's quelling of the October 1 independence referendum drew global condemnation and outrage, with footage of national police officers and members of the Civil Guardia seizing ballot boxes and violently dispersing voters going viral on social media.

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German court orders Carles Puigdemont's release on bail