Former Catalan president arrested while crossing border

Mar 26, 2018, 01:23
Former Catalan president arrested while crossing border

He had hoped to gain worldwide support from there for the independence of Catalonia, one of Spain's wealthiest regions.

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

Footage posted on social media shows crowds meeting with police wearing helmets, but the protests appeared to be peaceful.

Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has been arrested by the German Police on Sunday as he moved over by auto from Denmark.

The judge also issued a new worldwide arrest warrant for Puigdemont Friday, making him a wanted man across Europe once again, after his prior extradition order was lifted in December.

Global arrest warrants for Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in October, and five other fugitive Catalan politicians, were activated by the Spanish Supreme Court on Friday amid the recent crackdown on Catalan separatists.

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They said "Mr. Puigdemont is now in police custody" and refused to give further details.

National news agency DPA quoting unnamed sources said Puigdemont was driven in a small van with tinted windows to a prison at Neumuenster.

A Spanish police official told The Associated Press that its intelligence services worked with German police to orchestrate Puigdemont's arrest.

"The sole objective of this appearance is to verify the identity of the person arrested", the regional tribunal in the town of Schleswig said in a statement.

"All the negative inputs that we have received help us to unite the society even more", Coca said. 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".

The arrest comes two days after Spain's supreme court issued worldwide arrest warrants for 13 Catalan separatists including Puigdemont and his nominated successor Jordi Turull over their role in the region's failed bid for independence.

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Under the European arrest warrant procedure, the country where the person is arrested has to make a final decision on extradition within 60 days, according to European e-Justice Portal. Protesters also turned out in the northern city of Girona, where Puigdemont was mayor before he became regional president in 2016. He withstood intense political pressure from Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Spain's courts as he piloted the secession bid.

Puigdemont was arrested in Germany while travelling from Finland back to Belgium, where he has been living since fleeing Spain in October following an illegal declaration of independence by Catalonia's parliament. His subsequent declaration of a Catalan republic received no worldwide recognition and provoked a takeover by Spain's central powers.

Spain had originally asked for Puigdemont's extradition from Belgium after he moved there, but later withdrew the request until judge Pablo Llarena concluded his investigation this week.

51-year-old Turull was one of five high-profile separatists jailed without bail Friday by a Spanish Supreme Court judge for their alleged roles in a failed independence bid by Catalonia from Spain in October.

In the meantime, Puigdemont was free to make trips to Denmark, Switzerland and Finland, as part of his effort to gain worldwide support for the secessionist movement. Elections held in the region in December produced a slim majority for the separatist bloc but Puigdemont was unable to return to try to form a government because he faced arrest if he set foot back in Spain. When he arrived, Spanish courts had activated a European arrest warrant, but it was later deactivated.

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