Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont will appear in German court today, where he faces up to 25 years in jail for staging an illegal succession referendum in Spain last year.

A warrant for his arrest was issued by Madrid on Friday for charges of “rebellion” and “sedition.”

In a statement, the regional tribunal of the northern German border town of Schleswig, where he will be tried said:

The sole purpose of this appearance is to verify the identity of the person arrested.

The court will decide whether to grant Spain’s extradition request.

Puigdemont was arrested on the Danish border en-route to Belgium, his lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said, five months after going into self-imposed exile from Spain.

A German police spokesman confirmed: that Puigdemont “was arrested today at 11:19am by Schleswig-Holstein’s highway patrol force”.

Meanwhile, former Catalan minister Clara Ponsat who fled Spain to return to Scotland is preparing to turn herself into police.

Police Scotland confirmed yesterday it was in possession of the warrant and had attempted to trace the former Catalan education minister.

A police spokesman said:

We are in possession of a European arrest warrant for Clara Ponsati. We have been contacted by her solicitor, who is making arrangements for Ms Ponsati to hand herself in to police.

Ponsati returned to her job at the University of St Andrews in Fife earlier this year.

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She had been in Belgium since fleeing Spain with Puigdemont and three other former cabinet members after a bid to declare independence for Catalonia in October.

Why it matters:

As news broke of Carles Puigdemont’s arrest, protests erupted in the streets of Barcelona last night — a sign that the arrest risks escalating the smouldering Catalan crisis.

Tens of thousands of Catalans, wearing yellow in a show of solidarity with jailed separatist leaders, marched in the street  chanting “Puigdemont, our president” and “freedom for political prisoners”.

More than fifty people were injured and several were arrested in a smaller protest outside a central government building in the Catalan capital.

Background:

Puigdemont made his escape hours before Spain’s Supreme Court called for his arrest on Friday, along with 24 other Catalan leaders, who would be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobeying the state.

International arrest warrants have also been issued for four other politicians involved in the referendum, including Clara Ponsati, who is now living in Scotland.

Last year the region unilaterally declared independence from Spain, prompting Madrid to impose direct rule, ousting Puigdemont and his administration before dissolving the parliament.

Catalonia has been under direct rule from Madrid since the end of October.

The European arrest warrant system under which Puigdemont will be tried was emplaced in 2004.