Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont calls on Madrid to 'respect democracy'

Catalonia's Carles Puigdemont calls on Madrid to 'respect democracy'

Carles Puigdemont, the former president of the government of Catalonia, has urged Spain to allow Catalonia to form their regional government headed by Jordi Sanchez, who is now in prison for rebellion charges in a press conference Saturday.

"It is an embarrassment for Europe that we still have political prisoners", Puigdemont said referencing the pro-independence Catalan political and social leaders who have been jailed after the referendum.

If he is not sent back to Spain, he said he would plan to return to Belgium where he has established residency in Waterloo since fleeing there from Spain in October.

He also said that Spain must "comply with United Nations resolutions" and release political prisoners, alluding to several Catalan separatist politicians who were imprisoned after unilaterally declaring Catalonia's independence from Spain previous year.

"My duty is to remain here in Germany until the end of the judicial process here ..."

Mr Puigdemont told reporters that he hoped a German court's decision not to extradite him to Spain on charges of rebellion shows that "dialogue is needed" to defuse the political conflict in his home country. "It is my residence now until the end of this process".

He had been there since March 25, when he was arrested crossing the border from Denmark.

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley has praised the court's decision, telling the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday that the judges' decision was "absolutely right".

The German court decided the charge of rebellion did not warrant extradition, because the accusation isn't punishable under German law.

Misuse of public funds carries a sentence of around eight years at Spain, while a rebellion sentence can hit 30 years.

Barley said it was now up to Spain to prove their embezzlement charges against Puigdemont, which she said "won't be easy".

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of all Spain, speaking in the southern Spanish town of Seville, said that his government governs the decision by the church.

Spain's Supreme Court reactivated global arrest warrants last month for Puigdemont and four other Catalan politicians who went into self-imposed exile a year ago.

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