Germany praises bail decision for ex-Catalan leader

UN expert urges Spain not to pursue charges of rebellion

On Thursday, a German court refused Spain's request to extradite Puigdemont on a rebellion charge following his arrest in Germany last month.

"Spanish authorities understand that political measures are needed", Puigdemont said at a press conference in Berlin.

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

He repeated a call for dialogue with the Spanish state and asked the authorities to respect the results of last December's regional elections - which saw the Catalan separatists win a slim majority.

— By Aritz Parra in Madrid.

Catalan ex-leader Carles Puigdemont has said he wants to return to Belgium at the end of German legal proceedings.

The state court in Schleswig said Thursday it is setting conditions including a 75,000-euro ($92,000) payment for the 55-year-old ex-president of Spain's Catalonia region to leave prison.

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German prosecutors have argued that the charge of rebellion is similar to Germany's offence of treason.

Madrid accuses Puigdemont of rebellion and misuse of public funds in organizing an unauthorized referendum past year on Catalonia's independence from Spain.

Separately, the president of the Catalan regional parliament, Roger Torrent, said Saturday he would back pro-independence activist Jordi Sanchez - now in prison in Madrid - to become the next regional president in an effort to avert an election. The German court said it will consider his extradition on that count. "We always said we were ready", Puigdemont said. Several ministers of the former Catalan government were arrested, while Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid arrest.

The separatists' maneuvers come after a string of setbacks for their ambitions since October, with Spanish courts blocking moves toward independence and bringing charges against the movement's leaders.

Speaker Roger Torrent said Saturday he will propose Jordi Sanchez as the regional presidential candidate, even though Sanchez is detained for his part in an illegal- and unsuccessful- secession bid by Catalonia a year ago.

Two more members of the regional police and an official with the regional interior department were also indicted.

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