Catalan separatists block roads in protest

Former Catalan Leader Will Stay in German Jail

A German court yesterday kept former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in custody pending possible extradition to Spain to face "rebellion" charges.

The German Interior Ministry has told the press that it was informed by Spanish police authorities of the Catalan ex-governor's plans to travel through Germany and had no choice other than arrest Puigdemont due to the European arrest warrant.

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

On October 1, Catalonia held an independence referendum, which the central authorities did not recognize. Several pro-independence leaders were jailed, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest, but was detained in Germany.

His arrest came two days after Spain's supreme court issued worldwide arrest warrants for 13 Catalan separatists including Puigdemont and his nominated successor Jordi Turull.

Mr Puigdemont went into self-imposed exile in Belgium previous year, shortly after the Catalan parliament made a symbolic declaration of independence from Spain.

Thousands of people, many carrying Catalan separatist flags, demonstrated in Barcelona today.

The ruling must normally be made within 60 days under German law.

At least 90 individuals have been injured, including 20 security officers who fired warning shots in an attempt to disperse the angry protesting crowds. Spain's deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria welcomed the arrest as "good news", saying: "No one can make a mockery of the courts forever".

In a new burst of activity in the matter on Friday, Spanish officials issued fresh charges against several separatist leaders and renewed a European arrest warrant against Puigdemont, which had been withdrawn in December. Issuing the warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena accused the ousted Catalan leader of organising the referendum in October previous year despite a ban from Madrid and the risk of violence.

German police said they had arrested Mr Puigdemont in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.

In a move celebrated by his supporters, the United Nations Human Rights Committee announced that it has registered a complaint by Puigdemont alleging that Spain has violated his political rights. "That's why in recent months we have supported the clear stance of the Spanish government to ensure this legal and constitutional order", Seibert said.

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