BERLIN — German prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking the extradition of former Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont to Spain, where he could face trial for his role in organizing an independence referendum.
Puigdemont was detained in Germany on March 25 as he attempted to drive from Finland to Belgium, where he currently resides.
Prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig said they have asked the regional court to formally put him in pre-extradition custody following “intensive examination” of the European arrest warrant issued by Spain’s supreme court on March 23. If the court agrees to the request, prosecutors would still need to issue an order signing off on Puigdemont’s extradition.
Schleswig prosecutors said in a statement they consider the charge of rebellion to have an equivalent in German law — one of the requirements for extradition to take place.
“The accusation of rebellion contains at its core the allegation of carrying out an unconstitutional referendum despite expectations of violent disturbances,” the prosecutors said. They noted that during a meeting with police on Sept. 28, Puigdemont was warned that violence might escalate on the day of the Oct. 1 referendum, but his government went through with it anyway.
In addition to rebellion, Madrid accuses the 55-year-old of misuse of public funds.
In an interview from jail, published Monday, Puigdemont insisted the campaign for the Spanish region’s independence was nonviolent.
Puigdemont’s lawyers said in a written statement that they have asked judges to reject the prosecutors’ request, adding that they and their client “trust there will be an independent and objective examination by the Schleswig state court, to which further arguments against extradition will be presented in detail.”
The lawyers have also urged the German government to intervene in the case, citing the “political dimension.”