Spain withdraws international arrest warrant for ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont

European Arrest Warrants not applicable in this situation, supreme court judge rules

Jon Stone
Tuesday 05 December 2017 11:03
Dismissed Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont attends a press conference at International Press Club of Brussels
Dismissed Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont attends a press conference at International Press Club of Brussels

Spain’s Supreme Court has withdrawn an international arrest warrant for Catalonia’s former leader, Carles Puigdemont, and four other members of his deposed cabinet.

The disputed and ousted president is facing sedition, rebellion, and misuse of public funds charges in Spain relating to the calling of an independence referendum on 1 October.

Mr Puigdemont has, however, travelled to Belgium – leading Spanish authorities to issue a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to seek his deportation to face trial in Spain.

On Tuesday, a Spanish judge, however, said that individual EAWs were not valid for crimes allegedly committed by a wider group of people – in this case, the whole Catalan government.

He added that the five politicians had in any case shown their “intention to return to Spain” to run in elections in Catalonia.

The charges against the Catalans are punishable by years in prison.

At the weekend, the leader’s lawyer said he planned to stay in Belgium until after the next snap Catalan elections, which the Spanish government has called for 21 December after suspending home rule in the region.

Yesterday, the Spanish courts system refused bail for Mr Puigdemont’s deputy, former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, as well as deposed Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn and the leaders of two civic groups, ANC and Omnium Cultural.

Six other former ministers from the Generalitat, Catalonia’s regional government, were released from custody on bail.

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