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26 March 2018, 01:22 | Floyd Cook
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont spoke at the University of Helsinki last week.
Image Martti Kainulainen Lehtikuva
Separately confirming his arrest in Germany, Puigdemont's party spokeswoman Anna Grabalosa said: "It happened as he crossed the Danish-German border". But his attorney, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, said Saturday that Puigdemont had left Finland and was en route to Belgium.
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.
The arrest comes five months after Puigdemont went on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.
At the same time in Girona, several dozen supporters of Catalonia's independence gathered under the representation of the Spanish government and, in protest at the arrest of Puigdemont, removed the flag of Spain and painted the walls of the building with yellow paint.
Spain's supreme court said Friday would prosecute for "rebellion" 13 Catalan separatists, including Puigdemont, for their role in the region's failed bid to break away from Spain.
The judge also issued a new global arrest warrant for Puigdemont Friday, making him a wanted man across Europe once again, after his prior extradition order was lifted in December. If found guilty, they face up to 30 years in prison. He's also charged with misuse of public funds.
Madrid called a snap election for December a year ago in hope of having a more moderate Catalan government to deal with, but its plan backfired when the region voted a majority of pro-independence MPs into parliament, maintaining the status quo.
German authorities have 60 days to decide whether to extradite Puigdemont to Spain.
Catalonia will remain under direct rule by Madrid as long as it fails to form a new government.
"Spain does not guarantee a fair trial; only revenge and repression", she wrote on Twitter.
A Spanish police official told The Associated Press under customary condition of anonymity that Spain's National Center for Intelligence and police agents from its worldwide cooperation division helped German police to locate Puigdemont.
Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.
Police in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein said highway police detained Puigdemont Sunday at 11:19 a.m. (0919 GMT; 4:19 a.m. EDT) near the A7 highway which leads from Denmark into Germany.
Puigdemont's attorney said that German police have been following proper procedures since the arrest and that his client had intended upon his return to Brussels to "put himself, as always, at the disposal of the Belgian justice system".
It said in a statement that "the question of whether Mr. Puigdemont has to be taken into extradition custody will then have to be determined by the higher regional court in Schleswig". 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". Three people have also been arrested.
The warrants came as the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that 25 Catalan leaders should face charges for rebellion, sedition or embezzlement.
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