Posts Tagged ‘Puigdemont’

Catalonia: German prosecutors push for Carles Puigdemont’s extradition

May 22, 2018

The Schleswig-Holstein state prosecutor is advancing his case for the extradition of former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont. However, the state’s top court has ruled that Puigdemont cannot yet be rearrested.

    
Puigdemont in Berlin

The public prosecutor in the state of Schleswig-Holstein is preparing the paperwork to extradite former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to Spain, where he would face charges of rebellion and disturbing the public order following a referendum last autumn in which a majority of voters expressed a clear preference for the semiautonomous region’s secession.

On Tuesday, however, a court ruled that Puigdemont, who was taken into custody by German authorities in March at the request of Spain, could not be rearrested because he doesn’t pose a “flight risk.”

Puigdemont, who on April 6 was ordered released pending a decision, is currently in Berlin. A court had already ruled earlier this spring that he could not be extradited on charges of rebellion.

mkg/kms (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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Madrid moves to block second Puigdemont comeback bid in Catalonia

May 9, 2018

Spain’s executive said Wednesday it would block Carles Puigdemont from being re-appointed president of Catalonia, putting pressure on the separatist camp to pick another candidate and form a regional government after months of limbo.

© DPA/AFP/File / by Marianne BARRIAUX | Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont attends a meeting with members of the Catalan political platform “Junts per Catalunya” in Berlin on April 18, 2018

Madrid has requested the Constitutional Court cancel a reform voted for last week by Catalonia’s majority separatist parliament that would allow Puigdemont — currently in self-exile abroad — to be appointed president without having to be present, government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo told reporters.

The court will have to examine the request and rule on it but while it does that the reform will automatically be suspended, which means Puigdemont won’t be able to be appointed as planned later this week.

Mendez de Vigo said this meant the Catalan parliament would not be able to call a session to appoint Puigdemont “at the risk of committing the offence of disobedience”.

Puigdemont’s allies had announced Saturday they would try and have him appointed by May 14.

But they also recognised that if they couldn’t, they would pick an alternative candidate to unblock the political impasse in Catalonia, which was put under direct rule by Madrid on October 27 after a failed secession bid.

That day, Rajoy also sacked Puigdemont and all his ministers after the regional parliament declared independence following a referendum that wasn’t sanctioned by Madrid and was banned by the courts.

He also called snap regional elections for December 21, which separatist parties went on to win, once again getting an absolute majority in parliament.

By then, Puigdemont had already left for Belgium in self-imposed exile.

But since then, all candidates proposed by the separatist camp to lead Catalonia have fallen flat, as they are either abroad and wanted by Spain, or already in prison, charged with rebellion.

Critics of the independence camp have charged they are merely dragging the process out to try and garner sympathy.

Speaking in the Senate on Tuesday, Rajoy slammed the separatists’ attempts to have Puigdemont re-appointed.

He accused them of “having put Catalan politics in an absurd loop in which the personal interests of one person — just one — are placed before the collective project of an entire society”.

Catalan separatists, however, say Puigdemont is their legitimate leader as his Together for Catalonia grouping was the most voted out of all separatist parties in the December elections.

They also say the rebellion charge against him and others is disproportionate, and describe those already in jail in Spain — like former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras — as “political prisoners”.

by Marianne BARRIAUX
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AFP

Catalan separatists want leader-in-exile Puigdemont as president

May 6, 2018

Catalan separatists, meeting in Berlin, vowed Saturday to attempt once again to get their leader-in-exile Carles Puigdemont reinstalled as president of the Spanish region while adding that they don’t want to hold fresh elections.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people sitting

VP of the Catalonia’s parliament Josep Costa (L), former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont (2-L) and Catalonia JxCat party spokesperson, Elsa Artadi (2-R) are seen prior to a work meeting with members of their parliamentary group (EPA Photo)

“We don’t want new elections,” said Eduard Pujol, spokesman for Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia grouping.

However an attempt will be made to install the former Catalan president by May 14 at the latest, he added after talks with Puigdemont after talks in Berlin.

Puigdemont was sacked by Madrid after Catalonia made a declaration of independence last year following a regional referendum not sanctioned by the Spanish government.

The Catalan independence leader then left for Belgium where he lives in self-imposed exile. An earlier attempt to get him reinstated was blocked by a Spanish court.

Puigdemont was detained in Germany in March after Spain issued a European arrest warrant against him. He was later released on bail.

On Friday the pro-independence Catalan parliament backed a law allowing him his investiture while abroad, something the Spanish government has ruled out.

Ines Arrimadas, leader in Catalonia of the anti-independence Ciudadanos party, has rejected this “Puigdemont law,” describing it as “tailor-made for a fugitive.”

Since he fled Spain Puigdemont has been a divisive figure among the separatists.

On Saturday the influential grassroots independence group ANC announced the results of an opinion poll, saying that most of its members support the return of the “legitimate president.”

However, if this proves impossible, ANC supporters want a new government formed without a return to the ballot boxes.

The regional parliament must elect a new president by May 22 or organize fresh elections.

If Puigdemont is not reinstalled, his supporters will propose that ANC leader Jordi Sanchez, currently imprisoned in Madrid over the failed independence bid, be given the job.

But last month Spain’s Supreme Court rejected a request by Sanchez to be let out of jail and sworn in as the regional head.

If that option proves impossible “we will open the door to another alternative,” Pujol told reporters in Berlin, adding only that “none of the names you have speculated about are on the table.”

The Spanish press has mentioned economist Elsa Artadi, who is an ally of Puigdemont.

AFP

Puigdemont to appear before German judge as protests erupt in Catalonia

March 26, 2018

Afp

© Lluis Gene, AFP | Protesters hold a yellow ribbon with a picture of Catalonia’s deposed leader Carles Puigdemont while waving Catalan pro-independence Estelada flags during a demonstration in Barcelona on March 25, 2018.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2018-03-26

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is to appear in court Monday following his arrest in Germany which triggered a wave of protests in Catalonia where thousands of separatists faced off with police.

German police arrested Puigdemont on Sunday, after he crossed the border from Denmark, under a European warrant issued by Spain.

The arrest comes five months after Puigdemont went on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him with sedition and rebellion in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.

According to his lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, he was on his way to Belgium, where he had initially fled after Spanish authorities moved to impose direct rule over Catalonia.

Puigdemont will be brought before a German judge on Monday to confirm his identity. A court will then decide if he is to remain in custody pending extradition proceedings.

Calling the situation “very delicate”, Alonso-Cuevillas told Catalonia’s Rac1 radio it was “very likely that he will not be allowed to leave Germany”.

Julian Assange @JulianAssange

In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited.

22:10 – 25 Mar 2018

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Clashes erupted as protesters took to the streets in Catalonia on Sunday following his arrest.

Catalan police decked out in riot gear shoved and hit demonstrators with batons to keep the crowd from advancing on the office of the Spanish government’s representative in Barcelona, the capital of the wealthy northeastern region.

Officers fired warning shots in the air to try to contain the demonstrators, who pushed large recycling containers towards police. Some people threw glass bottles, cans and eggs at police.

Some 90 people were slightly injured during the protests in Barcelona, including 22 police officers, emergency services said.

Another seven people were injured at a protest in Lleida, about 150 kilometres west of Barcelona and one person was injured in Tarragona to the south.

It is the latest chapter in a secession saga that has bitterly divided Catalans and triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

‘Not the end’

“It angers us that they arrested Puigdemont, he is our highest representative,” 22-year-old architecture student Judit Carapena told AFP at the protest.

Spain’s central government should not “sing victory because it is not the end of separatism, far from it”, she added.

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent appealed for calm in an address broadcast on regional television.

“I have no doubt that Catalan society will act as it always has, with non-violence,” he said.

Aside from Puigdemont, nine other Catalan separatist leaders are in jail in Spain over the region’s failed bid for independence.

Puigdemont’s arrest comes two days after Spain’s supreme court issued international arrest warrants for 13 Catalan separatists including Puigdemont and his nominated successor Jordi Turull.

The court said they would be prosecuted for “rebellion”, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Twelve more face less serious charges like disobedience.

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

Puigdemont had been visiting Finland since Thursday, but slipped out of the Nordic country before Finnish police could detain him.

While separatist parties won Catalonia’s regional elections in December called by Madrid, they have been unable to elect a president and form a government as they have picked candidates who are now either in exile, in jail or facing prosecution.

After Puigdemont was forced to withdraw his bid for the presidency as he could not return to Spain without facing arrest, another pro-independence leader Jordi Sanchez followed suit when a judge refused to let him out of jail to be sworn in. The third candidate, Turull, was placed in custody on Friday.

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

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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Catalan separatists face reality check after leader Carles Puigdemont’s detention in Germany

March 26, 2018

BLOOMBERG

Image may contain: 3 people, text and outdoor

 A pro-independence demonstrator holds a poster with of a photo of Carles Puigdemont, the deposed leader of Catalonia’s pro-independence party, during a protest in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday. | AP

Carles Puigdemont’s removal from Catalonia’s political scene to a German jail forces the separatist movement to make a decision: keep bickering on the way ahead, or set aside differences and form a regional government.

The former Catalan president’s detention in Germany on Sunday was hailed by anti-separatist forces as a decisive blow against the push for Catalan independence. In a boost for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont now exits the political stage, at least for now, and is unable to influence events in Barcelona.

 

Yet pending Puigdemont’s return to Spain, the risk is his detention will act as the catalyst needed to pressure sparring separatist camps into unity three months after regional elections.

“It’s time to build a common front to defend individual and collective rights and liberties,” Roger Torrent, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, said on Twitter in response to Puigdemont’s arrest.

Spain is struggling to move on from the events of late last year when the force of separatist sentiment in Catalonia ran into the rock of the central government in Madrid’s refusal to let Puigdemont’s attempt to split the region from Spain succeed. Protests on the streets of Barcelona on Sunday were a reminder that the wounds are far from healed.

“At first sight, it all looks such a mess,” said Caroline Gray, lecturer at Aston University in the U.K. who specializes in nationalist movements. “But the fact is that political life goes on and Catalonia still needs a government.”

Puigdemont was held by German highway police on Sunday near the Danish border after attending a weekend event in Finland. He has been living in exile in Brussels since October, when Rajoy used emergency powers to sack the Catalan president and disband his government after his attempt to declare a republic, an act in breach of Spain’s constitution.

While Madrid went about restoring Spain’s constitutional order in Catalonia, judges began a crackdown that culminated in a Supreme Court judge declaring on Friday that Puigdemont and other separatist leaders would face prosecution for rebellion.

It was another blow to the secessionist campaign that has been in limbo since separatist parties emerged with a narrow majority in December’s regional elections. With Puigdemont in self-exile and other leaders abroad or in jail, they have so far failed to form a government.

An attempt to elect as president Jordi Turull, the spokesman of Puigdemont’s former government, failed last week when the radical separatist party CUP abstained from voting for him. Turull was himself jailed on remand on Friday, forcing the Catalan parliament to abandon a second attempt to hold a vote to make him president.

Attention will now focus on how Catalan and Spanish political forces respond to Puigdemont’s detention, said Gray. One outcome could be the CUP deputies being forced to rethink their decision to abstain. Eyes will also be on the Catalunya en Comu platform linked to the anti-austerity party Podemos to see if they might support efforts to elect a government, she said.

Puigdemont’s detention is a “big hit” for the separatist movement because he has been central to its narrative in recent months, said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at Carlos III University in Madrid. Even so, it may also help to focus their energies on ensuring a new government is formed, he said.

To be sure, not everyone is convinced that Puigdemont’s detention changes things much.

“In the short term, it will lead to calls for the separatist movement to be more united,” said Antonio Barroso, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. “In the end though, the internal divisions are there and I don’t think they’re going to disappear.”

Catalonia’s deadlocked politics have implications across the Spanish political spectrum. The tough legal crackdown on separatism sits badly with the Basque nationalists whose votes Rajoy’s minority government needs to pass a budget and other important legislation. That friction may mean that a regional government in Catalonia ultimately helps Rajoy’s case with the Basques.

The Catalan crisis has meanwhile helped Ciudadanos, the pro-Spain force that won the most votes of any party in the regional elections, vault over Rajoy’s People’s Party to take the lead in national opinion polls. Its leader Albert Rivera celebrated Puigdemont’s detention Sunday in a tweet that said “the flight of the coup-monger is finished.”

Puigdemont candidate for Catalan president as Spain seeks arrest

January 22, 2018

AFP

© Scanpix/AFP / by Daniel Bosque with Helene Dauschy in Copenhagen | Spanish prosecutors on Monday sought a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont as he arrived in Copenhagen in his first trip outside of Belgium since he fled to the country.

BARCELONA (AFP) – The speaker of the Catalan parliament on Monday proposed the region’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont as president of Catalonia, as Spanish prosecutors sought a European warrant for his arrest.Roger Torrent said Puigdemont’s candidacy to once again head Catalonia’s regional government is “absolutely legitimate”, even though the secessionist leader faces criminal proceedings over his role in Catalonia’s independence drive.

In a major blow to the central government in Madrid, separatist parties once again won an absolute majority in the Catalan regional parliament in a snap election in December.

Puigdemont wants to be invested from Belgium, where he fled in late October after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence. He now faces arrest if he returns to Catalonia over his role in the independence drive.

The Madrid government has ruled out his being allowed to rule from outside the country and even his separatist allies — the leftwing ERC party of Puigdemont’s former deputy Oriol Junqueras — are cool in private to his bid to rule from abroad.

Spanish prosecutors on Monday sought a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont as he arrived in Copenhagen in his first trip outside of Belgium since he fled to the country.

The prosecution service asked Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena to re-issue an arrest warrant for the secessionist leader, sacked by Madrid after the Catalan parliament declared independence, and urge Denmark to hand him over, a judicial source said.

Llarena had dropped a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and four of his deputies who fled to Belgium in early December, saying it would complicate the overall probe into the region’s leaders — but warned they would be arrested if they return.

He is not obliged to agree to the request to re-issue the warrant.

Puigdemont and the rest of his ousted government have been charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds over their separatist push.

Danish broadcaster TV2 released an image on its website of Puigdemont being surrounded by reporters after his plane landed in Copenhagen Airport.

On his Twitter feed, Puigdemont confirmed his arrival in the Danish capital, where he is due to take part in a debate at the University of Copenhagen about the secession crisis in the region later on Monday.

– ‘Illegal’ –

Three other separatist lawmakers are already in custody in Spain over their role in Catalonia’s separatist push, including Junqueras, his former deputy.

The parliamentary vote to choose a new Catalan leader is due to take place by the end of January.

The Catalan parliament’s legal experts have said that any presidential contender has to be physically present, but Puigdemont insists he has the legitimate mandate of the people to rule.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated Saturday that governing Catalonia from abroad would be “illegal” and has warned Madrid would maintain its direct control over the region and will take the matter to court if Puigdemont sought remote rule.

Madrid’s direct rule has proven very unpopular in a region that had enjoyed considerable autonomy before its leaders attempted to break away from Spain.

Catalonia’s separatist push has sparked Spain’s biggest constitutional crisis since the country returned to democracy following the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 and has deeply worried the country’s EU partners.

Having been in Belgium for three months without a residence permit, he would also have to leave, albeit briefly, to conform with EU residence laws.

by Daniel Bosque with Helene Dauschy in Copenhagen

After Catalan Voters Embrace Independence — Puigdemont offers to meet Spain’s PM outside Spain

December 22, 2017

 

Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont gives a press conference in Brussels on Friday, Dec.22, 2017. (AFP)

BRUSSELS: Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Friday offered to meet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy outside Spain for talks on the region’s independence crisis, a day after separatists won a parliamentary majority in snap polls.

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Puigdemont was speaking to reporters in Brussels, where he fled after his region’s parliament declared independence from Spain. Should he return, he faces arrest on charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds.
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“I am willing to meet Mr.Rajoy in Brussels or in any other location in the EU, so long as it is not in the Spanish state, for obvious reasons,” he said.
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The vote was widely seen as a moment of truth on the independence question, a divisive issue for the wealthy northern region, that has rattled a Europe already shaken by Brexit.
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With the secessionists maintaining their parliamentary majority, the move to call snap polls appeared to backfire against Rajoy, who had sacked the regional government and dissolved its parliament over the independence declaration.
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Spain beefs up border security as it fears Carles Puigdemont may stage surprise return

December 15, 2017

The Telegraph

By 

Spain’s security forces are reinforcing the borders to prevent a possible surprise return by ousted pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont ahead of next week’s crucial elections in Catalonia, it was reported on Thursday.

Mr Puigdemont is campaigning to be re-elected president from Belgium, where he fled with four cabinet members to avoid sedition and rebellion charges following Catalonia’s unilateral independence declaration in late October.

Despite facing arrest the moment he steps on to Spanish soil, Mr Puigdemont insists he will take office if he is victorious.

But he has also eyed the possibility of returning before the December 21 election – a move which could boost his poll numbers to secure a win.

Faced with that prospect, the Interior Ministry is deploying extra security agents to points of entry, in particular the Spanish border with France, across which Mr Puigdemont made his dramatic escape.

The deployment is to be formed of multiple police agencies and will be tasked with detaining the ex-president if he crosses the frontier, police sources told the Barcelona-based paper La Vanguardia.

Mr Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) platform has risen in the polls since he vowed to return, but the vote remains on a knife-edge.

On Tuesday, he told press in Brussels that he was ready to “run the risk” of taking up office, but was more ambiguous about a pre-election return.

“I would like to, above all to exercise the right to vote, but it doesn’t depend on me,” he said.

He has not registered to vote from abroad, and neither have his ex-cabinet members.

There have been persistent rumours that Mr Puigdemont might attempt a surprise appearance in Girona, his home city and a pro-independence stronghold which lies less than 40 miles south of the French border.

It was to Girona – which this week renamed its central square after the illegal October 1 independence vote – that Mr Puigdemont retreated after being removed from office as Madrid imposed direct rule.

There, he received a hero’s welcome before fleeing by road to Marseilles, where he boarded a flight to Belgium.

Earlier this month, Spain’s Supreme Court withdrew its European Arrest Warrants for Mr Puigdemont and his colleagues, ending the extradition process under which he was required to remain in Belgium.

The move has left him with a stark choice – return as promised and face arrest, or remain free but in endless exile.

Failing to return at least after the vote would hugely undermine his image as a persecuted hero, particularly as other pro-independence figures – notably Oriol Junqueras, the former VP and now presidential rival – are fighting the same charges from Madrid jail cells.

The Interior Ministry did not respond to an inquiry from The Telegraph, while the National Police declined to comment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/14/spain-beefs-border-security-fears-carles-puigdemont-may-stage/

Spain drops international arrest warrant for Catalonia ex-leader Puigdemont

December 5, 2017

AFP

© Aurore Belot, AFP | Catalonia’s dismissed leader Carles Puigdemont, along with other members of his dismissed government, arrives to address a press conference at The Press Club in Brussels on October 31, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-12-05

Spain’s Supreme Court said on Tuesday it had withdrawn an international arrest warrant for Catalonia’s former leader Carles Puigdemont and four of his cabinet members saying the politicians had shown willingness to return to Spain.

All five travelled to Belgium following a unilateral declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament on Oct. 27, considered illegal by Spanish courts.

The withdrawal of the arrest warrant also prevented more than one European jurisdiction overseeing the case, the court said.

(REUTERS)

Sacked Catalan leaders get pride of place in electoral lists

November 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Carles Puigdemont (right) and Oriol Junqueras during a session of the Catalan parliament on October 26, 2017

MADRID (AFP) – 

Jailed and exiled figures from Catalonia’s separatist movement feature prominently in party lists unveiled by the region’s pro-independence factions, ahead of elections called for December 21.

Of the 14 members of the Catalan government who were dismissed by the central government in October, 12 are on the two main separatist lists, the “Together for Catalonia” group of sacked president Carles Puigdemont and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), led by his vice president Oriol Junqueras.

Seven of the former officials, including Junqueras, are currently jailed pending an investigation into charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, while Puigdemont and four others are in Belgium fighting an extradition request filed by Spain.

Prosecutors in Brussels asked a judge Friday to extradite Puigdemont and the others, and a new hearing has been set for December 4.

But a final decision could still be months away, as both sides are expected to appeal if the judge rules against them, which means Puigdemont might be out of the country when the Catalonia vote is held.

Junqueras and the others being held may be released before the election.

Puigdemont presented on Twitter the lists backed by his conservative PDeCAT party, saying the candidates supported “independence, the republic and freedom”, as well as the restitution of the regional government and “a return of political prisoners and exiles”.

He had hoped to form a united separatist front for the new elections, as was the case in the region’s last elections in 2015, when the pro-independence camp secured a majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat parliament.

But the ERC rejected a joint ticket, and opinion polls suggest that while it is leading in the current campaign, which officially opens on December 5, the independence coalition as a whole could lose its absolute majority.

The polls indicate a tight race against the “Constitutionalist” bloc which favours Spanish unity, which includes Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP), the centrist Ciudadanos and Catalonia’s Socialist party.

Madrid has imposed direct rule on the once semi-autonomous region since the independence declaration made after a banned referendum on October 1, and called the new elections in a bid to “restore normality”.

Regional authorities said 90 percent chose to split from Spain, though less than half of eligible voters turned out in a region deeply divided on independence.