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Brussels – arrest warrants lifted for Catalonian exiles

CataloniaPuigdemontSpain has lifted the European Arrest Warrants issued for Catalonia’s former president, Carles Puigdemont (pictured) and four of his former ministers, all of whom have been holed up in Belgium since the Catalonian parliament declared independence from Spain on October 27th and they, rather sensibly, left the country.

As it stands, legally, the men will be arrested should they venture back to Spain as the domestic arrest warrants remain valid.

The politicians said from Brussels, that they wanted to return to Catalonia to run in the regional elections ordered by the Madrid government for December 21st.

The Belgian court easily could have rejected the basis of the European warrants issued by Spain, so Spanish judge Pablo Llarena lifted the warrant before it was picked over in Brussels and possibly deemed ‘politically motivated.’

Puigdemont and his colleagues attended an extradition hearing in Brussels yesterday and were expecting to have a decision over their status by December 14th. This no longer is necessary now that the warrants have been lifted.

Puigdemont is running for president in the Catalonian election, albeit in absentia, but is likely to be arrested when he land on Spanish soil, possibly sparking further trouble for PM Mariano Rajoy who is courting those in Spain who approve of his hard-line tactics to keep the country together but who has incurred international opprobrium as images of policemen beating unarmed voters have spread across the world’s media.