In a wide ranging new interview with German weekly Der Spiegel, Puigdemont sang the praises of the country where he was arrested in March while travelling back to his home in Belgium from a trip to Finland.
“It might sound surprising, but it was an enriching experience – both personally and politically. I had no unpleasant encounters in Germany, everyone was respectful and polite toward me, even when they didn’t share my point of view,” Puigdemont told Der Spiegel.
“Even when I was behind bars, I was treated well. I had faith in the fact that I was in a country where the rule of law prevails and that I was in the hands of people who knew what they were doing.”
The Catalan was released on bail 10 days after his arrest, pending a German court decision on an extradition request by Spain where he is wanted over his part in the independence push.
In July he finally returned to Belgium after a German court ruled he could not be extradited for the “rebellion” charge sought by Madrid, as it is not recognised in Germany. Spain’s Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena subsequently dropped the international arrest warrant against him.
Asked by Der Spiegel if the prevalence of the rule of law in Germany is different to Spain, Puigdemont replied “Unfortunately, it is indeed different in Spain. The Spanish legal system has more weaknesses”.
Puigdemont continues to fight for Catalan independence from his Waterloo base, and though he can now travel almost freely, he would still face arrest upon return to Spain where he remains wanted for rebellion and misuse of public funds. His successor as Catalan leader, Quim Torra, still considers him to be the “legitimate president” of Catalonia.
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