Eli Ridder | The Avro Post
The German justice system has released embattled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on bail, but has delayed a decision on the extradition request made by Spain, where the independence leader could face up to 25 years of incarceration.
Mr. Puigdemont had entered Germany from Denmark after leaving Finland on Friday when it appeared that he would be apprehended by police and begin the extradition process requested by Spain.
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,” reported Reuters.
The latest developments are part of the worsening Catalonia independence crisis that saw the elected pro-succession regional government hold a referendum on Oct. 1 that resulted in violence by national police and prompting Madrid to take direct control.
A snap election called by the federal government saw the independence coalition retain control of the Catalan parliament on Dec. 22 of last year, but Puigdemont, and much of his cabinet, were either in exile or in jail.
Police chief charged
Former chief of the Catalan police force, Lluis Trapero, received charges over his actions during the independence referendum in October of last year, it was reported on Thursday.
Madrid has charged the ex-chief with two counts of sedition and one of criminal organization, along with other former regional authorities.
The judge, Carmen Lamela, accuses the officials of working in cooperation with an organized plan to bring about Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
The charges specifically surround events last last September when crowds of people obstructed national police raid on ministry buildings in an attempt to halt the succession ballot and the referendum date.
Catalonia formally declared independence on Oct. 27 after passing a resolution in the regional parliament 70 to 10, a vote that the pro-unity opposition boycotted.
A planned Senate meeting passed Article 155 soon after the Catalan declaration stripping Catalonia of parts of its autonomy and giving Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy the power to oust the current regional government.
Rajoy told the senators that direct rule was essential to “law, democracy and stability.”
Later on Friday, Rajoy called regional elections for Catalonia, dissolving the current parliament and firing Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.
Days later, Puigdemont fled to Belgium.
More details to follow. Image of Carles Puigdemont from previous files.