The Spanish justice system has not yet managed to provide clear evidence to the German courts over the accusation of "misuse of public funds" they still hope to have president Carles Puigdemont extradited over, according to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The newspaper reports that although the Germans asked for more information from Spain, Spanish investigators "haven't managed to track down... the bill for the 10,000 transparent boxes made in China" used for the referendum.
According to Spanish public prosecutors, Puigdemont's "misuse of public funds" for the referendum reached 1,602,001.57 euros (£1.4 million, $2.0 million), but this has not yet been demonstrated. FAZ says that the higher regional court of Schleswig-Holstein has specifically asked Spain who paid for the referendum and what evidence there is for it. "Additional information has already been delivered from Spain twice", they write, but this doesn't yet appear to have been sufficient.
The newspaper shows itself clearly sceptical over whether Spain will be able to provide much more information, even suggesting that the German court should read the book Operació urnes (Operation ballot boxes) by journalists Laia Vicens and Xavier Tedó, which doesn't point to Catalan government participation in referendum expenses.
"To better understand how creative and conspiratorial the Catalan separatists were, it might be worthwhile for the German judiciary to read the book Operació urnes by the Catalan journalists Laia Vicens and Xavier Tedó. For the book, published in late 2017, they surveyed more than 50 participants. A Catalan with the pseudonym Lluís is meant to have been the "brains" of the operation. He ordered the ballot boxes for 100,000 euros, which he paid himself, from a French company in Guangzhou, China," they write.
Citing the book, they newspaper adds that the ballot boxes arrived in Marseilles in July 2017 in a container ship and that French customs were told they were to be used to build the largest plastic castle in the world. "A 'popular network' of thousands of volunteers succeeded in smuggling the ballot boxes to Catalonia, hiding them and bringing them unrecognised to more than 2000 polling stations on 1st October. According to research by Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung at least seven million voting slips also came from France".
Next in the report, entitled "Conspiratorial and creative" after the public organisation of the referendum, they cite all the statements from politicians saying that no public money was used for the referendum. They also note that the Spanish treasury had taken control of Catalan finances from mid-September.
"I don't know what money these 1st October ballot boxes from China, nor Puigdemont's maintenance, were paid for with. But I know it wasn't with public money", said Spanish finance minister Crisóbal Montoro on Monday to the newspaper El Mundo. In September 2017, Montoro's department had already taken control of the Catalan regional government's spending. Earlier, prime minister Mariano Rajoy had made a similar comment: "Not a single euro" from the central government's Regional Liquidity Fund flowed to the referendum, Rajoy said in February to the Parliament," they write.