Spain Drops Arrest Warrant For Ousted Catalan Leader Carles Puigdemont

Pauline Gross
December 7, 2017

In a statement, the court said Judge Pablo Llarena, in charge of the case, chose to withdraw the warrant as the five have said they want to come back to Spain to participate in regional elections.

The statement added the global warrant can not apply because the crimes are alleged to have been committed as part of a wider group.

Tuesday's action leaves Puigdemont and the ex-officials with two options - return to Spain and be arrested or remain in self-imposed exile.

There were no immediate reactions by Puigdemont and aides in Brussels to the judge's announcement, but defense lawyer Paul Bekaert was taken by surprise when he heard the news from a reporter.

He told supporters to view the election as the second part of the referendum.

"There are many of us who don't give the Spanish government the authority to dissolve a legitimate legislature".

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Although the European Union and worldwide arrest warrants have been withdrawn, the Spanish arrest warrants still remain and the five ex-officials will be arrested when they return to Spain.

The Catlonia leader and five of his ex-ministers all traveled to Belgium following a unilateral declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament on October 27, considered illegal by Spanish courts.

Mr Puigdemont and his four former colleagues face charges including embezzlement, rebellion and sedition, and face decades in prison.

Two ex-cabinet members, including Vice President Oriol Junqueras, and two separatist activists remain in custody.

The move comes a day after the five former Catalonia leaders appeared in court in Belgium - the country to which they fled to avoid arrest for charges of sedition, misuse of government funds and rebellion stemming from Catalonia's big for independence from Madrid.

Campaigning in the regional elections called by the Spanish government began at midnight on Tuesday, with the elections due to take place on 21 December. Catalonia will hold fresh regional elections on December 21, called by the central government after it took direct control of the region.

Other reports by GizPress

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