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Ex-Catalan Leader Puigdemont Arrested in Germany

Catalonia’s ousted president Carles Puigdemont was arrested in Germany Sunday while crossing the border from Denmark, German police said.

Puigdemont’s lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, confirmed the arrest on Twitter, adding that Puigdemont was traveling to Belgium, where he initially fled after an arrest warrant was issued against him for his role in an independence referendum in October.

A news report (on AFP) says Puigdemont will appear before a judge in Germany on Monday as part of a process of determining if he is to be returned to Spain. Puidgmont’s detention sparked some demonstrations in Spain, according to the Associated Press.

Puigdemont “was heading to Belgium to present himself, as always, at the disposal of Belgian courts,” Alonso-Cuevillas wrote.

The arrest follows a Spanish Supreme Court decision Friday to charge 13 Catalan separatist leaders with rebellion and other crimes for their attempt to declare independence from Spain last year.

German police arrested Puigdemont in conjunction with an international arrest warrant issued by Spain. The ousted Catalan leader could face up to 25 years in Spanish prison.

Last week, the latest regional presidential candidate, Jordi Turull, was placed in custody over his role in the attempted breakaway from Spain, marking the third time Catalonia’s parliament has been unable to nominate a new president.

One of Puigdemont’s associates, former Catalonia education chief, Clara Ponsati may also face arrest after fleeing from Spain to Scotland.  News reports say her attorney has been working out arrangements for Ponsati to surrender to police.  After leaving Spain, she resumed teaching at a university in Scotland.

Catalonia has been in political limbo since December, when Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called a special election in an effort to derail an independence movement in the region. The plan backfired when parties favoring a split with Spain won the election.

Madrid invoked special powers to take over the regional government after the Catalan administration declared independence in October.

 

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