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Former Catalonia president detained in Germany

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Screenshot of the exclusive interview of Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont at the Belgian television RTBF in Brussels, Belgium, on November 3, 2017. The Catalonian separatist leader sought by Spanish authorities on charges of rebellion, has been detained by police in Germany. (Danny Gys/Reporters/Abaca Press/TNS)

HAMBURG, Germany — Carles Puigdemont, the Catalonian separatist leader sought by Spanish authorities on charges of rebellion, was detained by police in Germany on Sunday.

On his way from Finland back to Belgium, Puigdemont was detained after he crossed the border into Germany from Denmark, Puigdemont’s lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, wrote on Twitter.

Puigdemont is set to appear in court on Monday.

The court will examine, with the help of documents submitted by Spain, “whether a transfer of Mr Puigdemont to the Spanish authorities is legally permissible,” said Ralph Doepper, the deputy attorney general for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Paul Bekaert, another lawyer for Puigdemont, said he expects the court to release his client with some stipulations.

Puigdemont had chosen to take a car rather than a plane to avoid airport security, Bekaert told the Belga news agency on Sunday.

Puigdemont supported a referendum in October seeking the independence of Catalonia from Spain. The national government deemed the referendum illegal, but Puigdemont, who was the president of Catalonia at the time, went ahead with the referendum anyway.

Puigdemont was removed from office at the end of October and fled to Belgium to avoid sedition and rebellion charges, while Madrid dissolved Catalonia’s government.

The grounds for pulling Puigdemont over in Germany on Sunday were a European arrest warrant, police said.

A European arrest warrant is issued in one European Union country and valid for all members of the EU, but countries still have the option to refuse an extradition request, for example, if the act is not a criminal offense in both countries.

Wolfgang Kubicki, a member of Germany’s lower house of parliament and vice chair of the libertarian Free Democrat Party, ruled out the possibility of extradition in Puigdemont’s case due to the specific charge of rebellion.

Kubicki, a lawyer, told RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group that rebellion isn’t a crime in Germany.

Last December, Spanish judicial authorities withdraw the European arrest warrants for Puigdemont and the other ministers in Belgium.

But Friday, the Spanish Supreme Court issued new European arrest warrants against Puigdemont and several other Catalan politicians who are abroad.

Puigdemont and other exiled Catalan leaders have traveled to other countries in Europe despite efforts by Spain to seek their extradition.

Puigdemont was recently in Finland, where he attended meetings at the Finnish parliament and gave a talk at Helsinki University.

Puigdemont had hoped to again be elected president of Catalonia in December, when separatists won a new vote in the region, which Madrid had called for after dissolving the regional government.

But the Constitutional Court ruled in January that a presidential candidate must be present in parliament for the vote to take up the post.

The decision ended Puigdemont’s hopes of again taking up the post, because he refused to return to Spain because of the charges awaiting him there.

He gave up his quest to reclaim the presidency this month.

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