Monday, 11 December, 2017

Warrant for Carles Puigdemont, Catalan Separatist, Is Dropped

Carles Puigdemont addresses the party faithful via video link Image Carles Puigdemont addresses the party faithful via video link
Charlie Simmons | 06 December, 2017, 01:19

Spain's Supreme Court has withdrawn its worldwide warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the ousted Catalan leader.

After receiving a request to free the 10 Catalan leaders, Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena decided there was a risk that Junqueras and three others would repeat their alleged offences if released.

The exiled Catalans still face national arrest warrants in Spain, and expect to be arrested if they return there.

Although the European Union and global arrest warrants have been withdrawn, the Spanish arrest warrants still remain and the five ex-officials will be arrested when they return to Spain.

Puigdemont and four other former Catalan ministers have been fighting their extradition from Belgium.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium after declaring his region independent from Spain in a referendum that saw voters in Catalonia vote overwhelmingly to secede from Madrid's control - although the ballot was not sanctioned by Madrid and less than half of the electorate turned out to vote.

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

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The five still face Spanish arrest warrants and would be arrested on their return to Spain where they would face charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds and, in Puigdemont's case, disobedience.

Puidgemont's former deputy Oriol Junqueras, another cabinet member and two independence activists have already been jailed in Spain.

He also said that the probed politicians have shown their "intention to return to Spain" in order to run for regional elections in Catalonia.

However, pro-independence parties view the election as a proxy vote on a split from Spain.

Independence never materialised, however, as Madrid sacked the Catalan government after the declaration on Oct 27, imposed direct rule on the once semi-autonomous region and called elections for Dec 21 in a bid to "restore normality". But 53-year-old contractor Jose Luis Aguirre said the attempt to unilaterally break away from Spain "is an act that can not be allowed".

Bekaert said legal proceedings in Belgium were now over. It had ERC, Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) and the far-left anti-establishment CUP party winning 66 or 67 of the parliament's 135 seats.

Because the Belgian penal code doesn't have an equivalent for a charge of "rebellion", the Spanish court withdrew the global warrants to allow for legal action against Puigdemont, as rebellion is one of the most serious crimes attributed to him.

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