Carles Puigdemont, the ex-leader of the Catalan separatists, can remain in Belgium without the fear of returning to Spain. In October, Mr Puigdemont fled to Belgium in the face of charges of rebellion.
On Tuesday, the announcement came a day after a Belgian judge postponed for a second time, until Dec. 14, a ruling on whether to honour the warrant request, and it coincided with the official opening of the campaign before the Dec. 21 elections for a new regional Parliament in Catalonia.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain called the elections for later this month in the hope that voters would replace the separatists who had used their fragile majority to push through the independence referendum that Spanish courts had declared illegal. Carles Puigdemont is hoping to run for re-election from Brussels.
Despite the unprecedentedness of the situation, the decision means that Mr Puigdemont and his allies can remain in Belgium, at least for the moment. Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, stressed that the case presented the office with an “unprecedented situation.”
“It’s not immediately clear whether Spain can still appeal this decision, what it means for the Belgian case, or whether the Belgian case should be dropped as a whole,”
In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Pablo Llarena of the Supreme Court said that it was important to keep “unity” in the legal proceedings against the separatist leaders and to avoid having those who stayed in Spain being at a disadvantage compared with “the fugitives.”