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Spain Supreme Court withdraws arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leaders

[JURIST] Spain's Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday withdrew [court order, PDF, in Spanish] a European arrest warrant seeking the deportation of Carles Puigdemont [profile], the former President of Catalonia, and four former Catalan officials.

The deposed officials fled to Belgium [JURIST report] after Spanish courts found the October Catalan independence referendum was unconstitutional and constituted acts of sedition by Catalan officials. Puigdemont has stated he would return to Spain if guaranteed a fair trial.

Judge Pablo Llarena's decision obviates an anticipated December 14 decision by Belgian courts on whether to extradite the former officials. Should the Belgian Court have imposed extradition, it could have dictated which charges [El Diario report, in Spanish] Spain could bring against the former officials. Additionally, Llarena reasoned that given the former officials have registered to run in December's Catalan elections, they have clear intention to return to Spain.

A Spanish arrest warrant remains in place to detain the Catalan leaders as soon as they return to Spain. Also Tuesday, six other former ministers were released [JURIST report] from custody on bail.

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