June 22, 2018

Fugitive ex-Catalan president arrested by police in Germany

26 March 2018, 01:26 | Simon Arnold

Fugitive ex-Catalan president arrested by police in Germany

Puigdemont takes part in a meeting with his party in Brussels

But the Finnish police said in a statement that they had no knowledge of his whereabouts.

He said the decision whether to extradite him to Spain, or release him, would probably come on Monday.

Puigdemont was detained Sunday morning in Germany on an global warrant near the highway leading from Denmark to Germany.

Madrid called a snap election for December past year in hope of having a more moderate Catalan government to deal with, but its plan backfired when the region voted a majority of pro-independence MPs into parliament, maintaining the status quo. Crowds were heading for the office of the European Commission Sunday evening.

Catalan police blocked the street and issued a call for people not to gather.

On social media, Catalonians likened the detention of Mr Puigdemont to the arrest of leftist Catalan president Lluis Companys by the Gestapo.

Carles Puigdemont fled Spain four months ago.

Prior to his detention in Germany, the former Catalan leader was visiting Finland for talks with legislators. Also the procession of participants to the German consulate is planned here.

There was another similar protest in the northern city of Girona, where Puigdemont was mayor before he became regional president in 2016. The Spanish government did not recognize the de facto declaration of independence by Catalonia.

Police detained former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont as he crossed into Germany from Denmark by vehicle, bringing his eventual return to Spain to face trial a step nearer. She has since renounced her seat in the Catalan parliament.

If Puigdemont returns to Spain, he will no doubt be arrested, making his return to the presidency problematic. The NBI said they were unaware of the person's location.

Aside from the scenes in Barcelona, the arrest of the fugitive ex-leader of secession-minded Catalonia has sparked mixed reactions in Spain.

The region has been without an official leader since Puigdemont fled to Belgium.

Issuing the warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena accused the ousted Catalan leader of organising an independence referendum in October previous year despite a ban from Madrid.

-By Joseph Wilson in Barcelona.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

Dpa photos showed a van with tinted windows believe to be carrying Puigdemont as it arrived at the prison Sunday afternoon. A spokesman for the police in Germany's northern state of Schleswig-Holstein also confirmed he was being held.

Puidgemont could take his case to Germany's highest court, which had in 2005 blocked the extradition to Spain on an European Union arrest warrant of a German-Syrian al-Qaeda suspect.

Puigdemont's party spokeswoman Anna Grabalosa said the arrest "happened as he crossed the Danish-German border". "We received a very hard blow yesterday. butut we must pick ourselves up quickly to build a future for all". He refused to give any details on the Catalan leader's current whereabouts other than to say "we had information that he would be in Germany or would enter Germany".

Arrimadas said: "Puigdemont knew that fracturing Catalan society into two parts, spending public money on illegal activities, provoking a political and institutional crisis without precedents and confronting a 21st-century democracy of the European Union was going to have consequences".

A Spanish police official told The Associated Press under customary condition of anonymity that Spain's National Center for Intelligence and police agents from its worldwide cooperation division helped German police to locate Puigdemont.

A protester is pulled by riot police blocking the road leading to the central government offices during scuffles at a demonstration in Barcelona on March 25, 2018, after Catalonia's former president was arrested by German police. That's according to his lawyer.

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