Carles Puigdemont was detained by German police yesterday while crossing from Denmark on his way back to Belgium. On Friday the Spanish government reactivated an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont. Spain sent a request to the Finnish authorities to detain Puigdemont, who was on a visit to promote the Catalan independence cause. However, the request was written in Spanish and there was a delay while authorities in Madrid had it translated into English. In the meantime, Puigdemont left the country.
The Catalan ex-President had been living near Brussles in self-imposed exile after a Spanish judge had issued a national arrest warrant. Puigdemont is wanted on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds after being highly involved in the October referendum which vies for the quest for Catalan independence from Spain.
Puigdemont spent the night in a prison in the north German town of Neumünster and will appear before a German judge on Monday. His court appearance, however, will be a formality to confirm his identity. German judges will have to assess if there is an equivalent to the Spanish charges in German law, which is known as “dual criminality”. The extradition procedure lasts about two months. If it formally begins, then a judge will decide whether Puigdemont will be kept in custody. The charges he faces in Spain could result in up to 30 years in prison.
After the news of his detention, protests broke out across Catalonia on Sunday. At least 98 people were injured in clashes with police and six arrests were made. In central Barcelona, protesters chanted “Freedom for the political prisoners” and “This Europe is shameful!” as they headed to the offices of the European Commission and the German consulate.Spanish news agency Efe estimated crowds of 55,000 in the centre of the city. Smaller demonstrations were held in Girona, where Puigdemont once served as mayor, Tarragona and Lleida. Some protesters also formed road blocks in various locations.