FILE - In this May 15, 2018 file photo former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, addresses the media during a news conference in Berlin, Germany. A Spanish Supreme Court judge has dropped his extradition requests for six Catalan separatist politicians wanted on rebellion charges. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)

Germany formally closes Puigdemont extradition case

July 20, 2018 - 6:50 am

BERLIN (AP) — A court in Germany formally ended extradition proceedings against former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Friday after Spain withdrew a European arrest warrant, leaving the separatist leader free to leave the country.

The state court in Schleswig revoked a German warrant putting Puigdemont in pre-extradition detention that was issued after his arrest in March. Puigdemont has been free on bail for most of the time since then, but had to report regularly to German police and wasn't allowed to leave the country without prosecutors' permission.

On Thursday, a Spanish Supreme Court judge dropped extradition requests for Puigdemont and five other politicians wanted on rebellion charges for promoting independence for Catalonia.

Puigdemont was arrested just south of Germany's border with Denmark as he traveled by car from Finland to Belgium, where he fled from Spain last year.

The Spanish decision came after the Schleswig court ruled last week that Puigdemont could not be sent back to Spain on rebellion charges, only for the lesser charge of embezzlement connected to the alleged misuse of public funds for holding a referendum on Catalan secession that a judge had outlawed.

Puigdemont is believed to be living in Hamburg. He has said he wants to return to Belgium.

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