Fugitive ex-Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont detained in Germany


Catalonia's transit authorities say demonstrators have blocked motorways and roads in the northeastern Spanish region, amid sustained protests over the detention of the former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

A formal decision on Spain's extradition request, which was under the jurisdiction of Higher Regional Court in Schleswig, was not expected before next week. A spokeswoman for the German prosecutor's office said it would "probably not come this week" ahead of the four-day Easter holiday. Puigdemont is facing charges of rebellion and sedition in Spain and was intercepted on the A7 highway that connects Germany and Denmark, two days after Spain renewed the global arrest order. Police reportedly fired warning shots and used brute force against protesters on Sunday, as demonstrators pelted officers with eggs, cans, and glass bottles. The declaration of independence resulted in a takeover of the regional government by Spanish authorities.

A decision on extradition must normally be made within 60 days under German law.

The Catalan parliament's declaration of independence in late October following an ad-hoc referendum banned by the Spanish government received no worldwide recognition and provoked a takeover of the regional government by Spanish authorities.

He was travelling from Denmark to Belgium, where he has been living in self-imposed exile since October past year.

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In the meantime, Puigdemont was free to make trips to Denmark, Switzerland and Finland in an effort to gain worldwide support for the secessionist movement.

The arrest comes five months after Puigdemont went on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him with sedition and rebellion in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.

Puigdemont's lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, has argued that the rebellion charges in Spain would be punishable in Germany only if conducted through violent means, and that Puigdemont was never violent. It wasn't immediately clear when and how the court would announce its decision.

Although the warrants are honoured across Europe, countries have the option to refuse extradition if, for example, the crimes charged are not illegal in the country where the suspect is located.

Germany's criminal code - unlike Belgium's - includes an offense that appears to be comparable to rebellion, the main accusation against Puigdemont. It calls for prison sentences for anyone who "undertakes, by force or through threat of force" to undermine the republic's existence or change its constitutional order.