German prosecutors seek extradition of Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont

Puigdemont faces up to 25 years behind bars if extradited

German prosecutors are seeking to extradite former Catalan president to Spain where he could face trial over an independence referendum.

Mr Puigdemont has been held in Germany since being arrested last week on an worldwide warrant issued by Spain.

"The accusation of rebellion essentially contemplates the holding of an unconstitutional referendum even though violent confrontations were to be expected", said the prosecution's statement.

In their statement, the prosecutors said Spain's request for extradition was valid as the charges had equivalents in German law.

The chief public prosecutor for Germany's northern state of Schleswig-Holstein bordering Denmark announced the decision on Tuesday after making the application before the higher regional court in the city of Schleswig.

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The ex-Catalan president fled Spain five months ago, for Belgium, after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed his regional administration and imposed direct rule on Catalonia.

The charges he faces over the organising of an illegal secession referendum could lead to 25 years behind bars. But the German government has said it would not interfere or veto any court decision, as this would be considered a "legal affront" by the federal government against the judicial system.

Puigdemont's lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, said in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1: "The German public prosecutor assumes the defence of the Spanish justice". Any extradition will also have to be approved by the German government, which can block it on political grounds.

But it maintains that if there was any violence before or on October 1, the day when an independence referendum was held in Catalonia despite a court ban, it was "isolated" and did not justify the rebellion offence.

In Spain, Puigdemont has already filed an appeal against a decision to prosecute him, arguing that the rebellion charge against him is unjustified.

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A spokeswoman for the Higher Regional Court in Schleswig said work had started on the case.

Initially, the court will decide on whether to issue an extradition arrest warrant.

The Spanish court aims to try a total of 25 Catalan leaders for rebellion and other charges.

Ponsati, a former Catalan education minister, handed herself over to police in?Edinburgh, Scotland, last week.

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