A German court on Thursday rejected [press release, in German] an extradition request for former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont [BBC profile] on the charge of rebellion for his role during Catalonia’s independence movement.
Puigdemont had declared Catalonia’s independence from Spain in October and after facing charges [JURIST report] including rebellion, fled to Belgium. Puigdemont had attended a conference in Finland and was attempting to return to Belgium when he was arrested [JURIST report] at the border of Denmark and Germany.
The Neumünster District Court [official website, in German] stated the rebellion charge Puigdemont faced in Spain was not a criminal offense in Germany.
The eligible offense of high treason was not met because it lacked the feature of “violence”. According to the principles established by the Federal Court of Justice in a comparable case, it is not sufficient for the realization of the concept of violence that a perpetrator threatens or uses force in order to induce a constitutional body to act as intended. Rather, it is necessary that the violence exercised on third parties should put such pressure on the constitutional to bow to the contrary will of the constitutional body. That is not the case here.
While Puigdemont was released on bail, the court agreed that extradition to Spain was possible on the lesser charge of misuse of public funds.
The court stated there is a risk of flight, “but since extradition on rebellion charges is impermissible, the risk of flight is substantially lessened.” Puigdemon is required to remain in Germany while extradition proceedings continue and must report weekly to police.