Spain’s Supreme Court has withdrawn European arrest warrants for separatists linked to Catalonia’s independence referendum.
The extradition requests were for six Catalan separatist politicians, including ex-regional president Carles Puigdemont, wanted on rebellion charges.
The revoking of the arrest warrants is expected to be viewed by Catalan separatists as a major victory against Spain’s central authorities.
Judge Pablo Lllarena said he had taken the decision after a ruling by a German court that Puigdemont could not be sent back to Spain for rebellion – only for misuse of public funds.
The court said the Spanish charge of rebellion is not recognised in Germany.
If the separatists are extradited only on the charges of embezzlement, they will only be able to stand on trial in Spain on these charges.
In Spain, rebellion carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while misuse of public funds carries only up to 12 years.
Judge Llarena is said to want the former president and his allies to face rebellion and sedition charges, as well as misuse of public funds.
The six politicians were wanted in connection with the Catalan regional government’s unauthorised referendum last year, in which the public voted on independence from Spain, and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.
A lawyer for Catalan separatist and former education minister Clara Ponsati has called the decision to withdraw the arrest warrants “excellent news” but said the question now is whether Spain will allow Puigdemont to return to Catalonia.
They added that Spanish prosecutors have “refused to release Catalan political prisoners”.
The banned referendum in October last year resulted in a heavy police crackdown and the firing of the Catalan president and his cabinet.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the referendum to avoid arrest but then travelled to Germany, where he was taken into custody.
Quim Torra, a hardline Catalan nationalist, was sworn in in May to replace Puigdemont as president of the region.
From – SkyNews