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German court refuses to extradite ex-Catalan leader on rebellion charge

A German court on Thursday refused a request from Spain to extradite Catalonia`s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont on a rebellion charge following his arrest in Germany last month, and ordered his release on bail pending a hearing on a lesser charge.

Judges "believe that in regard to the allegation of rebellion, extradition is illegal" as Puigdemont was not personally involved in violent acts during a referendum on Catalan independence last October, making his actions not punishable under German law, they said in a statement.

The Catalan separatist leader could still be extradited on a charge of misusing public funds, the judges added, although "further facts must be clarified and information gathered" in the coming days and weeks.

But meanwhile, Puigdemont can leave custody if he fulfils court-imposed conditions including a payment of 75,000 euros ($92,000).

It was not immediately clear when Puigdemont would leave the prison in Neumuenster where he has been held since his arrest on March 25.

His lawyer Till Dunckel told news agency DPA that the conditions would be fulfilled as quickly as possible, but that Puigdemont might not leave jail on Thursday evening.

Nevertheless, Puigdemont`s defence team were "very happy for our client" that the "outrageous" charge of rebellion had been set aside, Dunckel said.

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