Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Judge withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont

Spanish Supreme Court withdraws Carles Puigdemont international arrest warrant Spain's withdrawal of an arrest warrant for Catalonia's ex-leader was almost inevitable
Lisa Bryan | 06 December, 2017, 01:17

Spanish Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena on Tuesday confirmed a decision to withdraw the European arrest warrant which was issued for former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four former members of his government in November.

He and four allies have refused to return to Spain to face the charges.

On Monday, a Belgian court said it would rule on December 14 whether to extradite Puigdemont whilst a court in Spain chose 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. The judge ruled that the European arrest warrant had been...

Along with Puigdemont and his ministers in Brussels, all eight are under investigation for rebellion, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

He also "highlighted the danger for the impediment of their human rights" in Spain, which provoked strong condemnation when photographs were published revealing violent attacks on voters by police during the October referendum.

"Llarena said he had been moved to act after becoming aware of a discrepancy between Belgian and Spanish law that would limit the charges under which the Catalans could be extradited and therefore be charged on their return."Sources in Brussels believe Puigdemont's lawyer was preparing to argue that the definitions in Belgian law for the crimes of sedition and rebellion are different to those on the Spanish statute books".


On Tuesday, campaigning began for the December 21 Catalan regional election that Madrid called in an attempt to resolve the crisis by installing an administration in favor of Spanish unity.

Catalans remain deeply split on independence, and several polls suggest pro-secession parties might struggle to win enough seats to form a new regional government.

Catalonia will hold fresh regional elections on December 21, called by the central government after it took direct control of the region.

The poll, in which 3,000 people were interviewed, said just over 90% of those questioned were completely certain to vote in the elections while five percent will "probably" go. Puigdement is running as the candidate for the Junts Per Catalunya party, despite his exile.

The Spanish court said Puigdemont and his cabinet members had shown a willingness to return from Belgium to Spain to take part in the election.

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