Stormy protest in Barcelona after ex-Catalan leader arrested

26 March, 2018, 00:53 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • German police arrest former Catalan leader

Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has been arrested in Germany during an attempt to cross the border to Denmark on Sunday.

Police in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein said highway police arrested Mr Puigdemont on Sunday morning near the A7 main road that leads from Denmark into Germany.

Spain's supreme court announced Friday it would prosecute 13 Catalan separatists for "rebellion" including Puigdemont, for their role in the region's failed bid to break away from Madrid a year ago.

Global warrants for Mr Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders were withdrawn in December by a Spanish judge, who said they had shown a willingness to return to the country.

Thousands answered the call by a pro-independence grassroots group to protest in the city center hours after Puigdemont was detained by German police.

Former regional leader faces up to 25 years on sedition charges in Spain.

Mr Puigdemont was detained while travelling from Finland back to Belgium, where he has been living since October.

Catalonia's deposed leader Carles Puigdemont.

Later in the day Puigdemont's lawyer Jaume Alonso Cuevillas confirmed that his client had left Finland to Belgium and once there he would make "himself available to the Belgian justice and police".

Spain had originally asked for Puigdemont's extradition from Belgium after he moved there, but later withdrew the request until judge Pablo Llarena concluded his investigation this week.

Puigdemont has been a fugitive since Catalonia's failed bid to become independent from Spain last October.

Puigdemont fled Spain in a year ago after his bid to declare Catalan as independent from Spain; he has since been living in exile in Belgium.

Puigdemont himself had said from Belgium in early March that he was abandoning his bid to return as regional president, even though he had run in December's polls from overseas.

Polls show Catalans are nearly evenly divided on the issue of independence but the vast majority back holding a legal referendum to settle the question.

According to reports he was attempting to return to Belgium from Finland by auto when it appeared Finnish authorities were going to arrest him.

On Friday, Spain's Supreme Court ruled that a total of 25 Catalan leaders would be tried "for rebellion, embezzlement or disobedience".

Meanwhile, the Barcelona-based Catalan parliament suspended its debates on Saturday after a regional presidential candidate, Jordi Turull, who was seeking a second-round vote in parliament, was taken into custody.


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