A Belgian court let two former Catalan ministers who are in exile in Belgium off without precautionary measures on Thursday after Spain issued a European warrant for their arrests last week. Toni Comín and Lluís Puig, who were ministers in the Catalan executive that launched the 2017 independence bid, were allowed to walk free while awaiting a first extradition hearing.

According to the former ministers’ defense lawyers, the Belgian judiciary will first decide whether to integrate their cases with that of exiled president Carles Puigdemont. Puigdemont, who is also in exile in Belgium, will have to attend a new extradition hearing on December 16, after his initial court appearance at the end of October was postponed.

Comín and Puig were among a group of ministers who left the country with Puigdemont after the Catalan parliament made a declaration of independence on October 27, 2017. The Spanish authorities sacked the Catalan executive and temporarily imposed direct rule on Catalonia, arresting some government members, while others chose to leave the country

New arrest warrants were issued for the former officials abroad after the Supreme Court sentenced the detained independence leaders to between 9 and 13 years in prison.

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