Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Puigdemont urges Spain to open negotiations over Catalonia

World Briefs: Former Catalan leader urges talks with Spain UN expert urges Spain not to pursue charges of rebellion
Deanna Wagner | 08 April, 2018, 01:49

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said that he meant to stay in Berlin until court proceedings on his case were finalized while expressing hope to return to Brussels afterward.

"I hope the situation could help".

Catalonia's former president, Carles Puigdemont, said on Saturday that Spain must "respect democracy and worldwide treaties" in its treatment of the region and its politicians.

"My duty is to remain here in Germany until the end of the judicial process here ..."

Puigdemont, who was released on bail from a German prison on Friday, said, "My wish is to return to Belgium".

During his first press conference after being released from a German prison on bail, Puigdemont chastised the Spanish state for failing to recognized the results of the regional elections held after Catalonia's independence referendum, in October 2017. Several ministers of the former Catalan government were arrested, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest.

The other charge against him, misuse of public funds will be reviewed by Germany after Spain presents their case.

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

On Thursday, a German court ruled that he could not be extradited on grounds of rebellion, as the equivalent charge under German law, treason, requires a defendant to have committed violence.

Misuse of public funds carries a sentence of around eight years at Spain, while a rebellion sentence can hit 30 years.

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

Towards the end of his statement, he said: "I have always wanted worldwide mediation... one of my last interventions was to ask Spanish authorities to accept the mediation of other European states".

He also said that Spain must "comply with United Nations resolutions" and release political prisoners, alluding to several Catalan separatist politicians who were imprisoned after unilaterally declaring Catalonia's independence from Spain previous year.