German court says Carles Puigdemont can be released on bail

Court sets bail for Catalan leader at €75,000 and says he cannot be extradited for rebellion charge

A court in northern Germany has ruled that the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont can be released on bail while extradition proceedings continue.

The district court in Schleswig set bail for the 55-year-old at €75,000 (£66,000).

Puigdemont was arrested on a Spanish-issued warrant upon entering Germany on 25 March as he attempted to drive from Finland to Belgium, where he currently resides. Spain accuses the Catalan separatist of rebellion and corruption after he organised an unsanctioned independence referendum.

The Schleswig court said that it considered a charge of misuse of public funds sufficient grounds for an extradition, but that a charge of “rebellion” was not, because the comparable German charge of treason specifies violence.

Proceedings to decide whether to extradite him on corruption charges could continue, it said.

“There is a risk of flight,” the court said in its explanation of its decision to grant bail. “But since extradition on rebellion charges is impermissible, the risk of flight is substantially lessened.”

Puigdemont has written an open letter from prison, urging Catalonia’s parliament to make another attempt to elect jailed separatist activist Jordi Sànchez as the region’s president.

Puigdemont had proposed Sànchez as his number two in the Together for Catalonia party last month, but Spain’s supreme court refused to free him to attend a parliamentary session. Sànchez said in a letter from a Madrid jail published on Thursday that he was ready to try again to be elected.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

Contributor

Philip Oltermann in Berlin and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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