Carles Puigdemont, the former leader of Catalonia who was in lead for organizing the referendum in 2017 has been detained in Germany after he had entered self-imposed exile from Spain five months before. Spain had ordered him a tough sentence of 25 years for the organization of an illegal referendum for secession of Catalan Republic.
Puigdemont had travelled to Germany from Finland as he feared an arrest in latter and thereby face extradition to Spain. The detention has led to massive rallies in Barcelona by Catalans in support of Puigdemont with the crowds chanting “Puigdemont, our President” and “Freedom for political prisioners”.
Roger Torrent, the Catalan Parliamentary Speaker has urged a broader coalition to defend civil liberties and other sovereign rights. Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that 25 Catalan leaders will undergo a trial for rebellion, embezzlement and disregard of state. The court further reactivated international arrest warrants for all the Catalan politicians who are in the self-imposed exile.
Puigdemont was later sent to Neumuenster prison in Germany after being arrested in Schleswig-Holstein state in northern Germany on a European arrest warrant which was issued by Spain. The extradition issue will be decided by the Higher Regional Court in Schleswig-Holstein.
The European system of arrests was started in 2004. It facilitates European nations in EU to demand extradition from other EU states thus completely by-passing the political decisions in the process and making it speedy. Puigdemont’s remand in Germany will be extended further after a Court hearing today. Puigdemont’s attorney in Germany Paul Bekaert has briefed the media that his client will have to be produced before a German judge within 48 hours who will decide on his further detention. He said they will resort to all legal measures like appeals possibly to the highest German Court which had blocked the extradition of an Al-Qaeda suspect of German-Syrian, Mamoun Darkazanli, descent in 2005 to Spain. The refusal to extradite had led to a legal row between the two EU members but the German Court maintained that the extradition laws of EU have come to oppose the basic rights of German citizens.