Pro-Puigdemont Demonstrators Block Roads In Spain

Carles Puigdemont | Salvatore Di Nolfi

Spanish riot police broke up a blockade by Catalan separatists on major motorways in Catalonia Tuesday, part of a wave of protests over the arrest and detention of ex-regional president Carles Puigdemont.

Carles Puigdemont is in preliminary custody in northern Germany awaiting a court's decision on whether to proceed with an extradition request by Spain.

The 55-year-old politician led a parliamentary session in October last year that saw separatist lawmakers vote for the region of Catalonia to declare independence from Spain.

News of Puigdemont's arrest in Germany sparked protests across Catalonia late?Sunday.

The police were acting on an global arrest warrant issued by Spain.

Puigdemont's lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, has argued that the rebellion charges in Spain would be punishable in Germany only if conducted through violent means, and that Puigdemont was never violent. A spokeswoman for the German prosecutor's office told AFP it would "probably not come this week" ahead of the four-day Easter holiday.

On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of Barcelona following reports of the detainment of the ex-leader. The German court now has 60 days to decide whether he should be extradited.




About 90 people were slightly injured during pro-Puigdemont protests in Barcelona on Sunday, including 22 police officers.

Steffen Seibert, the official spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said it was the federal government's view that the conflict between Madrid and Barcelona has to be solved "within the framework of the Spanish legal and constitutional order" and that Berlin had already assisted the Spanish government towards this end during the past months. Twelve more face less serious charges such as disobedience.

- "Revenge and repression" - Puigdemont had been visiting Finland since Thursday, but slipped out of the country before Finnish police could detain him.

He was traveling from Denmark to Belgium, where he has been living in self-imposed exile since October a year ago.

German media initially reported that Puigdemont was considering applying for political asylum in Germany, a claim denied by his attorney on Monday.

While separatist parties won Catalonia's regional elections which were called by Madrid in December, they have been unable to elect a president and form a government as they have picked candidates who are now either in exile, in jail or facing prosecution. The Spanish Supreme Court on Friday issued fresh arrest warrants against Puigdemont and some other individuals behind the independence bid.

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