Spanish judge withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan leaders

A Spanish judge has withdrawn the European arrest warrants for ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four members of his former cabinet who were fighting extradition from Belgium.

The judge says that individual warrants don't apply to a crime committed by them as part of a wider group and that the probed politicians have shown their "intention to return to Spain" in order to run for elections in Catalonia.

The five Catalans are being investigated for rebellion, sedition and embezzlement, among other crimes, punishable with decades in prison in Spain. European and international arrest warrants were issued on Nov. 3.

Puigdemont is leading his party's campaign for the Dec. 21 election called by Spain's government in an attempt to find a democratic fix to the nation's worst institutional crisis in nearly four decades.