German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

Spain wants Carles Puigdemont to be extradited on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds, which stemmed from an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence. (AP)
Updated 22 May 2018
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German court rejects call for Catalan leader Puigdemont to be rearrested

BERLIN: A German court on Tuesday rejected a request from prosecutors to take former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont back into custody pending a decision on whether he can be extradited to Spain.
Puigdemont was detained by German police March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark. Spain had issued a European arrest warrant and sought his extradition on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds — charges that stem from an unauthorized referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
He was released April 6 after a German court said it appeared he can’t be extradited for rebellion, the more serious of the two charges. But prosecutors in the northern town of Schleswig argued that new information provided by Spanish authorities suggests that would be possible.
They cited videos showing violence against Spanish police and said in a statement that “the disturbances were on such a scale that prosecutors believe that he should also be extradited over the accusation of rebellion.” The prosecutors argued that the charge is comparable to two offenses under German law — treason and breaching the peace.
They said that Puigdemont would pose a flight risk and called for him to be taken back into custody. The state court in Schleswig disagreed and rejected the request.
Puigdemont remains free with certain conditions, including reporting to police once a week.
The separatist politician has been living in Berlin, frequently receiving political allies from Catalonia including his newly elected successor as regional president, Quim Torra.
The Schleswig court said it is “still open” when a final decision will be made on whether Puigdemont can be extradited. It said that the prosecutors have yet to submit a formal application to examine whether an extradition is possible.


French officials urge help for migrant rescue ship

Updated 14 August 2018
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French officials urge help for migrant rescue ship

PARIS: Officials in southern France made impassioned pleas Tuesday to a so-far-silent French government to allow docking access to a ship carrying 141 migrants that it rescued last week in the Mediterranean Sea, stressing humanitarian concerns.
Officials in the French island of Corsica said the Aquarius should be allowed to dock there after Italy’s new anti-migrant government and Malta both refused to take it.
The vessel, currently between Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa, is operated by French aid groups who say the health of those rescued in two operations Friday is stable but that many are weak and malnourished.
“Simply, there’s a necessity today to get help to this ship,” Jean-Guy Talamoni, president of Corsica’s local assembly, told BFM-TV.
“It’s time (Europe) wakes up and that everyone takes their share of responsibility. In the meantime, there are emergency situations, and you have to deal with them,” he added.
Corsica’s executive council head, Gilles Simeoni increased the pressure on Tuesday with a tweet: “Corsica and its ports remain available for emergency humanitarian aid.”
Simeoni added that Europe needs a real European policy on the migrant issue in the Mediterranean Sea.
In the coastal town of Sete near Montpellier in southern France, the port director also said he was ready to accept the Aquarius.
“My proposition, I’m insistent on this, it has only a humanitarian dimension in respect of international maritime law. It’s an obligation of help to people in danger,” Jean-Claude Gayssot, a non-elected official, told Europe-1.
“There have already been 800 deaths since the beginning of the year. The Mediterranean (sea) has become a graveyard,” Gayssot said.
The comments serve to raise the pressure on the French government and on President Emmanuel Macron — who ultimately decides if the vessel will be accepted by France
Macron has not yet commented.