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Spain is seeking the former president's extradition under charges of misuse of public funds in relation to Catalonia's independence declaration, as well as "rebellion" in organising a referendum, which Madrid has deemed illegal.

Prosecutors also asked the Higher Regional Court in Schleswig-Holstein, which will decide on the extradition, to keep Puigdemont in prison during the proceedings because there was a danger he would try to escape.

There is no direct equivalent in German law, but prosecutors told the court yesterday they believed it equated to the German crime of treason.

Initially, the court will decide on whether to issue an extradition arrest warrant.

They noted that during a meeting with police on September 28, Mr Puigdemont was warned that violence might escalate on the day of the October 1 referendum, but his government went through with it anyway.

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The prosecutor said Puigdemont has forged ahead with an independence referendum despite the fact that violent riots could be expected.

Former Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont says in a jail interview with two German members of parliament that he is "not a criminal" and that the campaign for the Spanish region's independence is based on democracy and nonviolence.

Under EU extradition agreements, Mr Puigdemont can only be tried on the charges he is extradited for.

They said the Spanish charge of misuse of public money - for an unconstitutional referendum - could also be punished in Germany.

"We will continue to work to build a free country, to ensure we have a society with less injustice, more equality, more solidarity and more fraternity with all the peoples of the world, starting with the peoples of Spain with whom we want to remain connected through respect and mutual recognition", he said in an audio recording handed to a German MP who visited him in prison.

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The German government has rejected calls from Puigdemont's lawyer to get involved.

Puigdemont's lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said his client's fate now rested with the courts.

Puigdemont has already filed an appeal in Spain against a decision to prosecute him, arguing the rebellion charge against him is not justified.

The Spanish government is now trying 25 Catalan nationalist leaders who were involved in the October 2017 secessionist vote.

This case has divided public opinion in Germany, where supporters of the man still seen as the Catalan leader took to the streets to demand his release following his arrest.

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