Catalan ex-leader Puigdemont from prison: 'We will never surrender'

Neumuenster (dpa) - Former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday vowed to continue his fight for the region's independence, his lawyers said after visiting him in a northern German prison.

"We will never surrender," Puigdemont's lawyers quoted him as saying in Neumuenster prison, where he is detained pending legal proceedings over an extradition request from Spain.
"He is strong and he has a fierce determination to fight for the rights of the Catalan people," the lawyers said.
The lawyers said they had found Puigdemont in excellent health and in good spirits, adding that they have trust in the German legal system.
"This is going to be a long fight but it is going to be a fight that is going to succeed," the lawyers said.
Puigdemont was detained by German police Sunday at a highway rest stop near the Danish border, as he drove from Finland to Belgium, where he has been living since fleeing from Spain.
He left the country just before the Spanish government ousted his government in reaction to an October 1 referendum on independence that was deemed illegal by the constitutional court.
The former Catalan president, for whom a Spanish judge had issued Friday a European arrest warrant, is wanted for rebellion, and risks up to 30 years' imprisonment if convicted.
Earlier on Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva said it registered a complaint from Puigdemont in which he accuses Spain of breaching his political and civil rights.
Puigdemont's lawyers said that the UN committee in Geneva had agreed to examine the complaint.
Also on Tuesday, a Catalan pro-independence group, Committee for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), paralyzed road traffic in Catalonia to protest Puigdemont's arrest.
Protesters occupied several motorways and highways and, for about an hour, the Diagonal, one of the main avenues of Barcelona. People held banners calling for "freedom" for "political prisoners."
The Catalan police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, intervened to clear the AP-7 motorway near Figueres, close to the French border, while other roads remained blocked.
Apart from Puigdemont, nine Catalan secessionist figures are in pre-trial detention in Spain, including his ex-deputy Oriol Junqueras and a new candidate for the Catalan presidency, Jordi Turull.
Six others have fled abroad to escape arrest, such as ex-Catalan regional education minister Clara Ponsati. A Scottish court is to start examining a Spanish request for her extradition on Wednesday.
In the Catalan referendum, more than 90 per cent of votes cast were in favour of a break-up from Spain, but unionists mostly boycotted the ballot, and turnout was less than 50 per cent.
The Spanish government called new regional elections in December, in which secessionist parties won again, but have since been unable to form a new government, partly due to Spanish arrest warrants.


Tuesday, March 27th 2018

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