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Spanish judge drops extradition bid for Catalan leaders wanted for rebellion

Spanish judge drops extradition bid for Catalan leaders wanted for rebellion

A Spanish Supreme Court judge has dropped his extradition requests for six Catalan separatist politicians wanted on rebellion charges.

They include Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s ex-regional president who fled to Belgium to avoid arrest and then went to Germany.

The moves comes after a German court recently ruled Mr Puigdemont could not be sent back to Spain for rebellion, only for misuse of public funds.

Judge Pablo Llarena said in a decision published on Thursday that he was revoking the international arrest warrants against the six, in what the Catalan separatist movement was likely to regard as a major victory against Spain’s central authorities.

The charges are in connection with the Catalan regional government’s unauthorised referendum last year on independence from Spain and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence by the separatist-controlled regional parliament.

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati’s lawyer welcomed the Spanish court’s decision to withdraw European Arrest Warrants against Catalan politicians, but said it was unclear whether they would be allowed back.

Former education minister Ms Ponsati, 61, a professor at Scotland’s University of St Andrews, is one of several leaders of Catalonia’s regional government being sought by Spain.

“It’s excellent news, with regards to my client Clara Ponsati, and obviously for Puigdemont… but we tread cautiously,” Aamer Anwar told Reuters by phone.

“The question that arises is whether the Spanish government are willing to allow Mr Puigdemont to simply return back to Catalonia and declare independence… I suspect not.”

(PA/Reuters)

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