Home UK & Europe Europe Puigdemont, a hero in Catalonia, yet deemed as an embezzler in Madrid

Puigdemont, a hero in Catalonia, yet deemed as an embezzler in Madrid

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News Analysis |

Carles Puigdemont has been detained in Germany on an arrest warrant issued by Spanish authorities. In response to his arrest protests broke out in Barcelona after the news erupt that Catalonia’s former separatist leader Carles Puigdemont had been detained in Germany. Among all forms of rule; monarchy, aristocracy, and oligarchy, democracy is the one considered ‘sacred’ for today’s political world.

Yet the recent treatment of former elected president of Spain’s northern Catalonia region speaks otherwise. Several other separatist leaders have been arrested. Spanish authorities accuse Puigdemont of rebellion, sedition and misuse of funds over his role in the referendum, in which 90% of voters were in favor of a split from Madrid. The voter turnout was only 42%, and blame was placed on the Government crackdown on Election Day.

Germany can extradite suspects only if the alleged offence is also punishable under German law. There is no such crime as rebellion under German law, but there is a crime of high treason, defined as using force or the threat of force to undermine the constitutional order.

Puigdemont had led a referendum declaring Catalonia independent from Spain in October 2017. However Spain’s Prime Minister rejected the referendum by terming it illegal. The referendum question, which voters answered with “Yes” or “No”, was “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”

Catalonia Protests

Thousands of protesters responded by taking to the streets of Catalonia on Friday, which resulted in clashes with riot police, leaving 24 protesters lightly injured. Lawyers also protested outside Barcelona’s judicial building. The protests have been termed as “peaceful so far”, yet several protestors have been arrested.

Catalonia will remain under direct rule by Madrid as long as it does not form a new government. The direct rule was imposed after the independence declaration in October 2017. Spain imposed direct rule on Catalonia after the independence declaration, stripping the autonomous region of many of its administrative powers.

Puigdemont: A Rebel and an Embezzler?

The Spanish authorities want to arrest Puigdemont for charges of rebellion, embezzlement and sedition. He could face up to 30 years of imprisonment. A protestor speaking to media stated, “Every time they arrest Puigdemont, we feel less Spanish in this state that only persecutes us.”

Germany initially, like other European countries, had presented a neutral stance Spain’s internal matter”, when the referendum was initially deemed illegal in October 2017.

The Catalonia separatist population considers him a heroic freedom fighter. Puigdemont had fled Catalonia, after the referendum was deemed illegal, until his safety was to be guaranteed.  Protestors chanted, “Puigdemont, president”. 

Catalonia’s distinct traditions and language had driven independence hopes for decades, however there were political reasons to support the stance of breaking away from Spain. Puidgemont’s independence movement usually gave the explanation of the separatist movement as since Catalonia has the moral, economic and political right to self determination.

Catalonians have felt they have “given more and received less” to Spain. Catalonia is the richest region in Spain and if it successfully wins separation, Madrid could lose 20% of its GDP, a fear plaguing Spain. Catalonians have always been fiercely proud of their culture and history. School children have been brought up with romanticized stories of how Christian Knights eventually pushed out Muslims during the middle ages and formed their own independent state.

A Case of Irony

Puigdemont previously escaped arrest in Finland, it is ironic how the western world has united to extradite a separatist yet is often accused of providing a platform for promoting Baloch insurgency in Pakistan. Mehran Baluch is a British passport holder, campaigns for the “ill treatment” of Baloch leaders in Pakistan. He has been campaigning in Europe to lobby officials, diplomats, and lawmakers.

The direct rule was imposed after the independence declaration in October 2017. Spain imposed direct rule on Catalonia after the independence declaration, stripping the autonomous region of many of its administrative powers.

He has addressed open sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council and held demonstrations outside the global body’s offices in Geneva. Mehran Baluch is the youngest son of the late Khair Baksh Marri. The tribal leader is widely seen as a pioneering figure of the Baloch nationalist movement. However the difference between the Puidgemont’s movement and Baloch insurgency is a case of judgment across clear waters; as Puidgemont was an elected leader while Baloch leaders are only responsible for creating insurgency in Balochistan. Germany initially, like other European countries, had presented a neutral stance Spain’s internal matter”, when the referendum was initially deemed illegal in October 2017.

However Germany issued a statement last year that it “was interested in stability in Spain and that for this it was necessary that the law, including the Spanish constitution, was respected at all levels”. Germany can extradite suspects only if the alleged offence is also punishable under German law. There is no such crime as rebellion under German law, but there is a crime of high treason, defined as using force or the threat of force to undermine the constitutional order.


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