Deposed Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont will remain in Belgium despite the withdrawal of the European arrest warrant that had been issued against him, his lawyer, Paul Bekaert, said on Tuesday. “Puigdemont will not leave Belgium following the withdrawal of the European arrest warrant,” Bekaert said when contacted by L’Echo daily. “Only one of the three warrants was dropped,” he explained. The Spanish and international warrants are still in effect, which means the Catalan leader can still be arrested outside the European Union, L’Echo noted.
Spanish media reported earlier on Tuesday that Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena had withdrawn the European arrest warrant against Puigdemont and four of his former ministers, Antonio Comín, Lluís Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsatí, who had fled to Brussels on the 30th of October. “The investigation has shown that they intended to return to Spain,” the judge said.
In a nine-page justification of his decision, which has been communicated to Belgium’s justice department, the judge said he felt the investigation had to do with a crime “of a pluri-subjective nature with an inseparable legal unity, which requires a single response to avoid contradictory responses”.
He maintained the Spanish arrest warrant against the five, who would be arrested on their return to Spain, court sources explained. “They seem to have indicated their intention to return to Spain with the aim of carrying out elective functions for elections that have been called recently,” Llarena said in a reference to the regional election to be held on 21 December.