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German prosecutors order release of Carles Puigdemont

The former Catalan leader posted 75,000 euros bail and provided an address in Germany where he will reside pending a decision in his extradition case.

German prosecutors have ordered the immediate release of ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont after he posted 75,000 euros (£65,000) bail.

The Schleswig prosecutors’ office said Puigdemont also provided authorities with an address in Germany where he will reside pending a decision in his extradition case.

The 55-year-old was detained on March 25 after crossing the border from Denmark.

Spain is seeking his extradition for rebellion and misuse of public funds in organising an unauthorised referendum last year on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

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Puigdemont supporters celebrate in front of the prison in Neumuenster (Carsten Rehder/dpa/AP)

The state court in Schleswig ruled on Thursday that Puigdemont cannot be extradited for rebellion because the equivalent German law presumes the use or threat of force sufficient to bend the will of authorities.

He can still be extradited on misuse of funds charges.

The ruling will allow Puigdemont to move freely in Germany pending any decision on his extradition.

“No information will be provided about his current whereabouts,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Supporters said the 55-year-old planned a news conference later.

The German court’s decision is a setback for the Spanish judiciary’s efforts to crack down on the separatist movement.

It is also an embarrassing blow for Spain’s conservative government, which has insisted the dispute over Catalan separatism is a legal issue, not a political one, and has refused to be drawn into negotiations with Puigdemont and his supporters since October’s banned referendum.

Spain’s deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the government would respect the German ruling and awaited further details before deciding on any response.

She also took a swipe at Catalan pro-independence parties, which the government accuses of flouting the constitution and disobeying court orders, by adding that Spain is “a state that shows its character by respecting the decisions of the courts in whatever direction that decision is made”.

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