German court says Carles Puigdemont can be released on bail

A German court has ruled that former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont can be released on bail pending a decision on his possible extradition to Spain.

Puigdemont was detained in Germany on a Spanish arrest warrant as he attempted to drive on March 25 from Finland to Belgium, where he now resides.

Since October, Puigdemont had been living in Belgium. He has been held at a prison in Neumuenster.

Spain's Supreme Court reactivated global arrest warrants last month for Puigdemont and four other Catalan politicians who went into self-imposed exile past year.

German prosecutors argued earlier this week that the main charge of rebellion is equivalent to Germany's criminal offense of treason.

The court has been considering what to do about a Spanish extradition request for Mr Puigdemont for more than a week. It found that the accusations against Puigdemont don't satisfy the precedents set by previous German rulings, which call for a use or threat of force sufficient to bend the will of authorities.

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. "This political persecution has to end it is as it is driven by completely false narrative". The court said it would consider an extradition request based on allegations of corruption, though. He was arrested last month in Germany as he crossed into the country by auto.

Puigdemont's German lawyer said the separatist politician was arranging the transfer of the bail money to Germany.

The official, who spoke under customary anonymity, said "Spanish justice will adopt the appropriate measures in the face of these new circumstances".

"We hope that we can arrange it so that by tomorrow morning he is a free man and can live in Germany in the following days and weeks", he said.

  • Joey Payne