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Spanish court withdraws arrest warrant for ousted Catalan leader

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**This image is for use with this specific article only.**  Catalan president Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the failed independence bid. **This image is for use with this specific article only.** Catalan president Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the failed independence bid.

(CNN) -- The Spanish supreme court has withdrawn a European arrest warrant for the ousted president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium after the failure of his attempt to secure independence for the autonomous Spanish region following a referendum on October 1. The referendum had been ruled illegal.

Judge Pablo Llarena, who is in charge of the case, also withdrew warrants for the arrest of four other Catalan politicians who fled Spain with Puigdemont: Antoni Comin, Lluis Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsati.

The decision does not mean that Puigdemont, who faces charges of rebellion, would not be arrested if he returned to Spain, where he is still wanted by judicial authorities.

Campaigning began Tuesday in Catalonia for fresh regional elections on December 21.

On Monday, a Belgian court said it would rule on December 14 whether to extradite Puigdemont whilst a court in Spain decided to keep the former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras and three other senior Catalan politicians in jail on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

According to the statement released by the Spanish court, Llarena argued that the European warrant would complicate the overall probe into Catalan leaders.

He said under European law the Belgian court could reject some of the reasons behind the warrant, which could possibly limit the charges brought against Puigdemont and the four others and create inequalities with Catalan leaders on trial in Spain.

It was not immediately clear if Puigdemont would remain in Belgium or return to Spain to face charges there.

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