Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Wednesday said he and four of his ex-cabinet members plan to remain in Belgium "for the moment" after Spain dropped an worldwide warrant for his arrest on Tuesday. The court said that the politicians had shown their "intention to return to Spain".
Tens of thousands of people from Catalonia are rallying in Brussels to complain about what they see as the European Union's failure to help them following a failed independence referendum in the Spanish region. 'We want to return, but there are no guarantees, ' he said, reiterating that the four pro-independence leaders, two ex-advisers and the leaders of the two main separatist groups that did remain in Spain, are still imprisoned for crimes considered political.
The judge kept a Spanish arrest warrant in place however, which means the Catalan leader would be detained immediately upon arrival in Spain.
Financial Times reported that Puigdemont said he would return to Spain after Catalonia's regional election scheduled for December 21.
European Union takes Hungary to top court over crackdown 'aimed at George Soros'
The European commission - the executive arm of the EU - said Hungary had repeatedly failed to answer its concerns over both cases. Hungary adopted a law in April that set new requirements for non-EU universities based in the country.
Puigdemont declared the northeastern region of Catalonia an independent republic on October 27, leading Madrid to impose direct rule on the regional government and fire the pro-independence administration.
Several other members of the Catalan government, including former Vice President Oriol Junqueras, remain in preventative prison in Spain as they await trials for sedition and rebellion.
Speaking via video message to supporters in Barcelona, Puigdemont said the upcoming regional elections meant Catalonia must "choose between nation or submission, they can choose between Catalan institutions or dark characters in Madrid".
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