23:48 GMT +318 February 2019
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    Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, centre, speaks to the media at a sports center, assigned to be a polling station by the Catalan government and where Puigdemont was originally expected to vote, in Sant Julia de Ramis, near Girona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Scuffles earlier erupted as voters protested as dozens of anti-rioting police broke into a polling station.

    Catalan Ex-Head Hopes to Leave for Belgium After Сourt Session in Berlin

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said that he intended to stay in Berlin until court proceedings on his case were finalized while expressing hope to return to Brussels afterward.

    "My duty is to remain here in Germany until the end of the judicial process here … And if, finally, I am released and not charged here, my goal [will be] to return to Belgium but only after the end of the process here in Germany – not before," Carles Puigdemont said at a press conference, broadcast live.

    Also on Saturday, Puigdemont urged the international community to pay attention to the regional politicians and activists detained by the Spanish authorities, renewing a call for their release.

    ​The High Regional Court of Schleswig-Holstein on April 5, released the ex-president, who was arrested last month on a Spanish-issued warrant as he entered Germany, on a 75,000-euro ($91,700) bail. The court has concluded that extradition to Spain was not possible on the charge of "rebellion," since it did not see evidence that Puigdemont intended to use force to gain Catalan independence. The court, however, has not ruled out extradition on the charge of "embezzlement."

    READ MORE: Catalan Ex-Leader Considered Escaping to Russia Before Arrest in Germany

    On March 23, Spanish Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena initiated a European arrest warrant for 25 Catalan politicians, including Puigdemont, regarding the illegitimate Catalan independence referendum of 2017. Shortly thereafter, the former Catalan president was detained in Germany after he crossed the border with Denmark on his way from Finland to Belgium. In Spain, Puigdemont is wanted on charges of rebellion and embezzlement, facing up to 30 years in prison.

    The autonomous region of Catalonia held a referendum on independence on October 1, in which over 90 percent of the 2.26 million Catalans, who participated in the vote, approved the region's secession from Spain. Madrid announced the vote illegal and subsequently imposed direct rule over the autonomous region and dismissed its government. Several ministers of the former Catalan government were arrested, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest.


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