Spain drops extradition plea for Puigdemont, 5 others

Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled extradition requests and international and European arrest warrants for six Catalan separatists, including their former leader Carles Puigdemont (pictured), who fled the country after organising a disputed referendum on the region’s independence in October last year.

The court’s reversal of ruling comes after a German court in Schleswig-Holstein said this month that Puigdemont, who is on bail in their country, could be extradited on the charges of misuse of funds and not rebellion.

The Spanish charges of ‘rebellion’ are not recognised in Germany and the nearest German legal equivalent ‘treason’ does not apply in Puigdemont’s case as his actions did not lead to any kind of violence.

If Spain wants Puigdemont to be extradited, he should be tried for corruption, not rebellion, the German court ruled.

In Spain, rebellion carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison while misuse of public funds has a maximum sentence of 12 years.

Reversing the ruling on Thursday, Judge Pablo Llarena of Spain’s Supreme Court said the German court showed a lack of commitment in pursuing the six fugitives who tried to break a Spanish constitutional order.

The Spanish court took the U-turn to avoid the legal tangle if the charges of rebellion against Puigdemont and three others are dropped for their extradition. Nine Catalan separatist leaders who are in custody in Spain and awaiting trial would then argue that they should not be tried on rebellion charges.

Although the international and European arrest warrants have been dropped for Puigdemont and five others, the Spanish warrants remain open which means they could be arrested if they re-enter the country.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium following the October 1 referendum to avoid arrest. He was arrested in Germany on March 25 while returning to Brussels by car after an engagement in Finland.