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Catalonia's Puigdemont: Madrid 'scared' of losing extradition request

Europe
06.12.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - Spain dropped a European arrest warrant against Carles Puigdemont because it was "scared" of being denied the request, the ousted Catalan separatist leader said, accusing Madrid of a political campaign against him.

Puigdemont was behind a drive for independence that culminated in late October with the central government dissolving his regional administration.

He absconded to Belgium with four of his former ministers, triggering the arrest warrant. They are wanted on charges of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of funds.

But on Tuesday Madrid unexpectedly withdrew the extradition request, while upholding its criminal charges.

"The Spanish state became scared of losing. This shows that we are facing a political cause and that the European warrant was a political fudge from the beginning," Puigdemont told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday.

The government of Catalonia was dismissed by Madrid after the regional parliament voted for independence on October 27.

Fresh regional elections are due in Catalonia on December 21, but Puigdemont said he would not be returning to campaign for the time being.

"For now we will stay here," he said, arguing that Brussels was Europe‘s capital and the place where they could "best defend their rights."

"If the Spanish justice closes the cases, the criminal cases against us and frees everybody, we would be happy we would be thrilled to go back and campaign," added Clara Ponsati, one of the ministers who also fled to Belgium.

 

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