World News

Spanish court withdraws arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader

Posted December 5, 2017 5:19 a.m. EST

— The Spanish supreme court has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for the ousted president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the failure of his attempt to secure independence for the autonomous Spanish region following a referendum on October 1.The referendum had been ruled illegal.

Judge Pablo Llarena also withdrew warrants for the arrest of four other Catalan politicians who fled Spain with Puigdemont: Antoni Comin, Lluis Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsati.

On the face of it, the decision appears to allow Puigdemont to return to Spain without fear of arrest. Campaigning began Tuesday in Catalonia for fresh regional elections on December 21.

On Monday, a Belgian court said it would rule on December 14 whether to extradite Puigdemont whilst a court in Spain decided to keep the former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras and three other senior Catalan politicians in jail on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.