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28 March 2018, 01:05 | Conrad Doyle
Catalonia's former president Puigdemont's extradition starts after Germany arrest
The United Nations Human Rights Commission has registered a complaint by Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont, who alleges that Spain violated his political rights.
"With the latest jailings and the arrest of president Carles Puigdemont, it seems clear that we have crossed a point of no return", it said in a statement on Monday announcing a wave of protests.
Mr Puigdemont had entered Germany from Denmark after leaving Finland on Friday when it appeared police would arrest him there and launch an extradition process requested by Spain.
Issuing the warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena accused the ousted Catalan leader of organising an independence referendum in October previous year despite a ban from Madrid and the risk of violence. Several pro-independence leaders were jailed, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest, but was detained in Germany.
According to Puigdemont's lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, he was on his way back to Belgium, where he fled after Spanish authorities moved to impose direct rule over Catalonia.
No decision is likely this week, a spokeswoman for northern German prosecutors said earlier.
In Barcelona on Sunday Catalan police decked out in riot gear shoved and hit demonstrators with batons to keep the crowd from advancing on the office of the Spanish government's representative in the capital of Spain's wealthy northeastern region.
Today's arrest threatens to worsen the Catalan crisis which flared past year when the region made a symbolic declaration of independence, prompting Madrid to take direct rule. - "Solution can be found" - The case lands a diplomatic hot potato in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's lap less than two weeks after her new government was sworn in.
Puigdemont was president of Catalonia until previous year.
In a new burst of activity in the matter on Friday, Spanish officials issued fresh charges against several separatist leaders and renewed a European arrest warrant against Puigdemont, which had been withdrawn in December. That vote had been swiftly followed by the Catalan parliament's declaration of independence on October 27.
German media initially reported that Puigdemont was considering applying for political asylum in Germany, a claim denied by his attorney on Monday. Since then, new elections in Catalonia have yielded another government backing separatism, though it has not been able to name a president since so many leaders of the separatist cause, like Puigdemont, face trial.
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