German court: Catalan politician can legally be extradited

BERLIN (AP) — A German court has lifted a hurdle for legally allowing the extradition of a prominent Catalan politician to Spain on charges of embezzlement, although an extradition request has not been approved.

The Schleswig-Holstein state court made the ruling in the case of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who fled the country to avoid jail and is fighting extradition.

The court says the state's prosecutors still will have to decide on whether to approve Spain's extradition request. It was not immediately clear when that decision would be made.

The charges are in connection with the Catalan regional government's unauthorized referendum last year on independence from Spain and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence by the separatist-controlled regional parliament.

The Spanish government rejects Catalan independence.