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Germany praises bail decision for ex-Catalan leader

09 April 2018

He called for "the immediate release of all my colleagues in Spanish prisons".

Puigdemont was released after he was arrested in Germany, pending a decision on extradition to Spain.

A smiling Puigdemont emerged into the sunshine from the prison in Neumuenster, where he has been held for almost two weeks, thanking staff "for their professionality and for their respect" and the inmates for "their solidarity and help for me to adapt quickly to the situation".

Spanish authorities had issued an arrest warrant against Puigdemont for his involvement in a controversial Catalan independence referendum. "And if, finally, I am released and not charged here, my goal [will be] to return to Belgium but only after the end of the process here in Germany - not before", Carles Puigdemont said at a press conference, broadcast live.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has made a renewed call for Spanish authorities to open negotiations over the region's secession bid.

"My plan is to remain of course in Berlin". Spain is seeking his extradition for rebellion and misuse of public funds in organizing an unauthorized referendum previous year on Catalonia's independence from Spain.

Catalan separatist and the former head of the regional government Carles Puigdemont paid bail on Friday, allowing him to walk out of jail after he was arrested last month on a European warrant. He was trying to drive from Finland to Belgium, where he had been living since fleeing to escape arrest in Spain.

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Puigdemont can move freely in Germany pending a decision on his extradition, though he must report to police once a week and inform prosecutors of any change in residence.

Katarina Barley told daily Sueddeutsche on Saturday the judges' decision was "absolutely right" and what she'd expected.

Spain is seeking Puigdemont's extradition for rebellion and misuse of public funds in organizing an unauthorized referendum previous year on Catalonia's independence from Spain.

Misuse of public funds carries a sentence of up to eight years in Spain, while a rebellion sentence can reach 30 years.

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

Rajoy says on Saturday that his government upholds and abides by court rulings in Spain and elsewhere. However, if he is sent back to face trial on that charge, under European law he will no longer be able to be prosecuted in Spain for rebellion.

Barley said it was now up to Spain to prove their embezzlement charges against Puigdemont, which she said "won't be easy".

Germany praises bail decision for ex-Catalan leader