Spain drops extradition requests for Catalan separatists

They include deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who has been fighting extradition from Germany.

Spain's supreme court has withdrawn its European Arrest Warrants against former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and five of his aides who remain overseas.

Puigdemont was cleared last week of extradition to Spain on the charge of rebellion by a court in Germany, where he is now in exile, on the grounds his actions during the vote were non-violent.

In a decision published Thursday, Spanish Judge Pablo Llarena revoked the arrest warrants against the six Catalan leaders and declined to extradite Puigdemont on charges of misusing public funds.

The six politicians were wanted in connection with the Catalan regional government's unauthorised referendum a year ago, in which the public voted on independence from Spain, and the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

The court said the Spanish charge of rebellion is not recognised in Germany.

"It's excellent news, with regards to my client Clara Ponsati, and obviously for Puigdemont. but we tread cautiously", lawyer Aamer Anwar told the Reuters news agency. Puigdemont fled past year for Belgium after Catalonia held a referendum on independence that Madrid deemed unconstitutional.

Prof Clara Ponsati was arrested by Scottish police in March.

Puigdemont is one of 13 separatist leaders accused of the most serious charge rebellion over their role in Catalonia's failed secession bid last October.

Mr Puigdemont initially travelled to Belgium where the prospect of charges being restricted led Spain to drop an arrest warrant in December.

Several other Catalan politicians are now in custody in Madrid on rebellion charges that carry a potential 30 year sentence.

The Spanish arrest warrant, however, remains open which means they will be detained if they try to come back.

New Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has met Mr Puigdemont's successor - fervent separatist Quim Torra - in a thawing of relations between Madrid and Barcelona.

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