December 18, 2018
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Spanish judge revokes European Arrest Warrant against former Catalan leader

 Carles Puigdemont speaks to press in Antwerpen, Belgium, Dec. 2, 2017. EPA-EFE FILE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Carles Puigdemont speaks to press in Antwerpen, Belgium, Dec. 2, 2017. EPA-EFE FILE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Madrid, Dec 5 (efe-epa).- A Spanish Supreme Court judge on Tuesday revoked a European Arrest Warrant that had been issued against the sacked President of the Catalonia region and several of his cabinet members.

Carles Puigdemont and the four other politicians have been in Belgium since the Spanish government triggered Article 155 of the Constitution, reeling back Catalonia's independence and dissolving the regional parliament and government in response to a unilateral declaration of independence.

Supreme court sources told EFE that Judge Pablo Llarena wanted to avoid the possibility that Belgium could limit the alleged crimes they could face charges for once in Spain.

He considered that it was important to treat all the suspects as a unified block, and therefore having the charges against some being altered because of the Belgian extradition could jeopardize the investigation.

The five have claimed that, should they return to Spain, where they face charges of rebellion, sedition, disobedience and misuse of public funds, they could not guarantee they would have fair trials.

However, Puigdemont has expressed willingness to return to the country as he is a candidate in the upcoming Dec. 21 regional elections in Catalonia.

The national arrest warrant would be maintained and should they go back, they could be arrested and charged in the same way as other high-level Catalan politicians, including ousted vice president Oriol Junqueras who remains in pre-trial detention and was on Monday refused bail.

Puigdemont's lawyer said he would not be responding until he had received an official dismissal of the arrest warrant and the Belgian prosecutor's office said it was analyzing the updates in the case.

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