ALSO READGerman police arrest ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Danish border German prosecutor seeks extradition for ex-Catalan leader Puigdemont Spanish PM demands clarification of Catalan independence move Spain's FM accuses Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont of 'trickery' Catalan government to appeal direct rule in constitutional court
Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont is set to walk out of a German jail today, after judges refused his extradition to Spain for alleged rebellion and ordered him freed on bail pending a ruling on a lesser corruption charge.
"We must look to the future with hope and optimism because we have the right, we have the right not to be robbed of our future," read a tweet posted from Puigdemonts official account this morning.
"We have to stand firm, theres no going back now."
In a major victory for Puigdemont, judges at the upper state court in Schleswig-Holstein ruled late yesterday that extradition on a charge of rebellion would be "inadmissable".
They said in a statement that Puigdemont was not involved in violence during an outlawed referendum on Catalan independence last October.
That was grounds to reject prosecutors argument that the Spanish "rebellion" charge was similar enough to Germanys "high treason" statute to justify extradition.
The Catalan separatist figurehead could still be extradited on a charge of misusing public funds, the judges added, as they asked their Spanish counterparts for more information on the matter.
Once Puigdemont is out on bail, he must keep authorities informed of his whereabouts, report to police weekly, respond to summons from prosecutors or the court, and remain in Germany.
Puigdemonts German defence team welcomed the decision to set aside the "outrageous" rebellion charge, and said they "respected" judges call for more information from Spain.
If extradited only for misusing public funds, Puigdemont cannot be prosecuted in Spain on the more serious charge of rebellion under European law.
The lesser charge relates to the cost of the Catalan independence referendum, estimated at 1.6 million euros by Madrid.
News of Puigdemonts bail "will reduce tension and pressure in Catalonia" where protestors have blocked streets and clashed with police in recent days, political scientist Oriol Bartomeus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona told AFP.
But the relief would only be "momentary", he added, noting that "nothing has been resolved".
Public opinion in Spain is divided on whether the referendum constituted a "violent uprising" as laid out in law.
Catalans mostly reject the rebellion charge, according to opinion polls. A major demonstration calling for imprisoned separatist leaders to be freed is planned for April 15 in Barcelona.
Puigdemont and six political allies escaped Spanish authorities in an attempt to draw international attention to their plight.
Spain wants the trio -- Meritxell Serret, Antoni Comin and Lluis Puig -- to face charges of rebellion, misuse of public funds and disobeying the state.