​Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont detained in Germany

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was detained in Germany on Sunday (Mar 25th), five months after entering self-imposed exile from Spain, where he faces up to 25 years in prison for organizing an illegal secession referendum last year. 

Puigdemont had entered Germany from Denmark after leaving Finland on Friday when it appeared that police would arrest him there and begin an extradition process requested by Spain. 

The detention threatens to worsen the Catalan crisis that flared last year when the region made a symbolic declaration of independence, prompting Madrid to take direct rule. 

Tens of thousands of Catalans, many of them wearing yellow in support of jailed separatist leaders, demonstrated in Barcelona on Sunday afternoon, chanting “Puigdemont, our president” and “freedom for political prisoners.” 

In a smaller parallel protest outside the central government delegation in the Catalan capital, three people were arrested and 50 suffered minor injuries after protesters clashed with riot police. 

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent called for a broad coalition in defense of civil liberties and sovereign rights in a televised address on Sunday evening. 

“No judge, no government and no civil servant has right to 

charge and pursue the president of all Catalans,” he said. Torrent called for “calm and responsibility” following the scuffles. 

Spain’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that 25 Catalan leaders would be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobeying the state and reactivated international arrest warrants for Puigdemont and four other politicians who went into self-imposed exile last year. 

Among those subject to the arrest order, Clara Ponsati, a former Catalan minister now living in Scotland, told authorities she would turn herself in, Scottish police said in a statement on Sunday afternoon. 

The other three Catalan leaders are in Belgium. 

German police arrested Puigdemont on Sunday in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein on a European arrest warrant issued by Spain. In a statement, police said Puigdemont was detained near a section of the A7 highway, which cuts through the state from the city of Flensburg near the Danish border. 

Puigdemont was later transferred to Neumuenster prison, German news agency DPA reported. 

German magazine Focus said that Spanish intelligence informed the BKA federal police that Puigdemont was on his way from Finland to Germany. It gave no source for its report. 

He had arrived in Finland on Thursday to meet lawmakers and attend a conference as part of a campaign to raise the profile of the Catalan independence movement in Europe.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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