BRUSSELS – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reacted on Thursday to a German court ruling that the deposed regional president of Catalonia’s extradition to Spain was only admissible on charges of embezzlement, instead of rebellion, by saying that the important part was that he would be facing trial in Spain.
In a press conference following a NATO summit in Brussels, Sanchez said he respected the decision by a regional court in northern Germany to dismiss the extradition of former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on grounds of rebellion – the court said the necessary degree of violence had not been reached – after his government held an independence referendum on Oct. 1 that had been deemed unconstitutional.
“The important thing is that the people involved in the events that took place in the second half of 2017 must face trial in Spanish courts, and that is something that will happen,” Sanchez said.
He added that the Spanish government had a policy of always respecting legal decisions, “be it in Spain, in Belgium, in Germany, or wherever it may be.”
According to Sanchez, the Spanish public expected its government to respect the courts and avoid expressing any opinions on their rulings.
Earlier in the day, the high court of the state of Schleswig-Holstein had said that, following a request by state prosecutors, it considered “extradition for the charge of rebellion inadmissible,” since the alleged acts “fulfilled neither the German offense of high treason (Section 81 of the Criminal Code) nor of breaching of the peace (Section 125 Criminal Code).”
The court added that Puigdemont could not be considered the “intellectual leader” of any violence that occurred in the days leading up to and after the referendum.
With regard to the allegation of misappropriation of public funds, the court upheld its earlier assessment and declared an extradition would be admissible on those grounds, as there was some evidence that Puigdemont was co-responsible for the introduction of financial obligations to the detriment of public coffers.
“As regional president, (Puigdemont) could have easily foreseen that the implementation of a referendum would cost money,” the court said.
However, the court refrained from ordering the detention of Puigdemont while he awaits a final decision on the extradition, arguing that the former Catalan president had always complied with the conditions of his release on bail after he was arrested while crossing the Danish-German border on March 25.