Ex-Catalonia Leader, Freed From German Jail, Calls for Talks With Spain



Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia, told reporters in Berlin on Saturday that he hoped his release from a German prison would create an opportunity for dialogue.

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Carles Puigdemont, the former leader of Catalonia, made a renewed call on Saturday for Spanish authorities to open negotiations over the region’s secession claim, a day after he was released from a German jail.

Mr. Puigdemont told reporters that he hoped a German court’s decision not to extradite him to Spain on charges of rebellion showed that “that political measures are needed” to defuse the political conflict in his home country.

“This opens a new opportunity of dialogue,” Mr. Puigdemont said at a news conference in Berlin.

The former president of Catalonia left a German prison in Neumuenster on bail on Friday, almost two weeks after his arrest, after a state court in Germany decided the charge of rebellion did not warrant extradition because the accusation is not punishable under German law. Mr. Puigdemont can still be extradited on the less serious charge of misuse of funds to hold Catalonia’s banned independence referendum last year.

After Catalonia declared independence last fall, Spain’s central government dissolved the regional Parliament and charged its leaders with sedition, a move which prompted Mr. Puigdemont to flee into exile in Brussels. He was returning to Belgium from a conference in Finland when he was detained by German authorities on March 25 on a European arrest warrant issued by Madrid.

Justice Minister Katarina Barley of Germany applauded the court’s decision to free Mr. Puigdemont on bail as “absolutely right” and what she had expected.

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Source : Nytimes