Catalan ex-President Puigdemont’s detention in Germany is answered by mass protests in Barcelona

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.

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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.

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Fire in Russian shopping center over 60 people

At least 64 people have died in a fire which started in a shopping and entertainment complex in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Many of the victims are children, as school holidays had just started, while ten people are still listed as “missing”. The building’s shops, cinema and bowling alley were packed at the time of the incident. Videos posted on social media showed people jumping from windows to escape the flames.

It is still unknown what started the fire, but authorities have already launched an investigation. “According to preliminary information, the roof collapsed in two cinemas,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement. Four people have been detained for questioning, including the head of the company that manages the shopping centre, according to the Investigative Committee. The owner of the Winter Cherry complex is among those being held.

 

 

 

Three dead in southern France terrorist attack

A man who took hostages at a supermarket in the French town of Trèbes has been shot by police after a standoff that lasted three hours. According to government sources, the suspect is now dead after also taking part in a couple other incidents today. In Carcassone, a town 15 minutes away from Trèbes, he is believed to have hijacked a car, killing one passenger and injuring the driver. He also shot and wounded a policeman who was jogging with colleagues in Carcassonne. The suspect is then believed to have driven to Trèbes, where he took hostages in the Super-U supermarket in the small town.

Reports say the gunman, believed to be Moroccan, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. He is said to have been heavily armed and demanding the release of Salah Abdeslam, the most important surviving suspect in the 13 November 2015 attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. It is also believed that the suspect was known to French intelligence services and that his mother is now at the scene.

A security source explained that most employees and customers at the supermarket had “managed to flee”. Hundreds of police officers have been deployed to the area and the vicinity has since been cordoned off. Counter-terrorism prosecutors are leading the investigation but few details have been provided.

Putin wins russian elections by massive landslide

Vladimir Putin has been reelected as President of Russia in an election which saw him gather over 75% of the popular vote. The former KGB spy will now sit at the head of the Kremlin until 2024, making him the country’s longest serving leader since Joseph Stalin. His main opponent, Alexei Navalny, was barred from taking part in the elections, making it a comfortable day for Putin at the polls. He was followed by Pável Grudinin, of the Communist Party (12,2%), nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovski (5,6%) and Ksenia Sobchak (1,5%), with the rest of candidates not even managing 1% of the votes.

Putin now has six years to solve his country’s main problems, like fighting against poverty or making Russia’s economy stronger. Other issues, like its involvement in the Syrian Civil War, its alleged interference in the American elections of 2016, or its role in the poisoning of the former Russian spy Serguéi Skripal in British territory will also call for him to take action.

But maybe even more important is the need for Putin to name a successor to his thrown, seeing as 2024 will probably be his last year in power. The Russian Constitution doesn’t allow for the president to keep his place for more than two successive terms. In six years time, Putin will be 72, and it seems unlikely that he will step down just to take part in the next elections – like he did in 2008. During a recent interview with NBC, the current Russian President also dismissed the idea that he will try to change the law to keep himself in power.

Trump to meet with Kim Jong-un

President Donald Trump has agreed to personally meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with the date to be set no later than May. This statement was made by officials at the White House, and would mean an unexpected encounter between the two nations after months of mutual hostility. It would also be the first summit between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

The offer by Kim Jong-un was first passed on to South Korean officials after both countries met in Pyongyang earlier this week. The South Korean delegation then delivered the invitation to Donald Trump after meeting with the American President on Thursday, and praised his influence over the developments. Trump agreed to meet with Kim, after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders announced that the American leader would “accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined”.

According to the South Korean officials, the North Korean leader was “commited to denuclearisation”, a move which China also welcomed. Donald Trump hailed the “great progress” which was being made in the relation between both countries, but said sanctions on the Asian country would remain in place.

Man shoots himself outside of White House

Several shots were heard on Pennsylvenia Avenue after a man approached the north fence of the White House and shot himself shortly before 12 PM. According to witnesses, the man was in a large crowd when he took out a concealed handgun and fired several times, but none of the shots appear to have been aimed at the presidential building. Cathy Milhoan, a Secret Service spokesperson, reported that the man has since died and nobody else was hurt, while White House personnel did not fire any shots.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were not inside the building, but at Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, when the incident happened. They were scheduled to return to Washington later on in the day for the annual Gridiron Club Dinner.

Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Il used fake Brazilian passports

According to Reuters, the current leader of North Korea and his father used ilegal documents, which had been obtained from the Brazilian embassy in Prague, the Czech Republic, in 1996. With them, both members of the Kim family applied for visas to European countries during the 1990s. According to the documents, Kim Jong Un traveled under the name of Josef Pwag, who would have been born in Sao Paulo in 1983, and Kim Jong Il would have been known as Ijong Tchoi.

The news agency, which published the photocopy of the two passports, supposedly received this information from unnamed European secret services. This same source claims that this discovery “proves the desire of the Kim family to travel” and it also “points out the family’s efforts to build an escape route”. It also suggests that these documents could have been used to visit Brazil, Japan and Hong Kong.

It was already known that the governing family of North Korea had illegally obtained passports, but no real evidence had been found until now. Calls to the North Korean embassy in Brasilia didn’t receive an answer, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brasil confirmed that it was studying the case.