OUSTED Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is to remain in Belgium “for the moment” after a Spanish judge withdrew arrest warrants.

Spanish supreme court judge Pablo Llorena said he had withdrawn European and international arrest warrants issued for the politician and four members of his former cabinet as a result of differences in law.

The five travelled to Belgium after Spanish authorities took legal action over the unilateral declaration of independence for Catalonia.

That was announced in the wake of the Yes vote recorded in October’s referendum, which was held after Puigdemont’s administration resisted calls from Madrid to cancel what it regarded as an illegal and unconstitutional ballot.

In a hearing in Brussels on Monday, Puigdemont’s lawyer Paul Bekaert argued that extradition could not take place because some of the charges against the five – rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds, punishable by decades of imprisonment – do not apply in Belgium.

Yesterday Llorena said the individual warrants no longer applied as new evidence showed the alleged crimes were a group action.

He added that the politicians had shown “intention to return” to Spain in order to contest the upcoming snap election, which was ordered in a bid to settle tensions over Catalonia’s future.

In an unprecedented move, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sacked the entire Catalan Government after the independence declaration, and Puigdemont is leading his party’s campaign.

However, the five could still be arrested if they do travel back.

Speaking to the VTM Network, Bekaert said Puigdemont would not immediately do so, stating: “For the moment, he stays in Belgium.”

The news came on the day that campaigning officially began for the fresh election, and follows the release of six other senior Catalan ministers on bail.

Two others remain in custody, including vice president Oriol Junqueras, as well as two independence activists. The four include candidates for the election, who will have to run their campaigns from within the Spanish prison system.

Early polls predict a close race between the parties for and against independence, foreshadowing a scenario of difficult post-electoral deals to end the deadlock.

Dissolving Catalonia’s parliament in October, Rajoy stated: “The Catalan Parliament has approved something that in the opinion of the great majority of people doesn’t just go against the law, but is a criminal act.”

Yesterday Theresa May emphasised her support for Rajoy as he arrived at Downing Street for talks, adding that the countries were working together to counter international terrorism.

May said: “I would ... like to reiterate my support for Prime Minister Rajoy on Catalonia. It is important that the rule of law is upheld and that the Spanish constitution is respected.”

She went on: “We are both countries that have suffered from cowardly and brutal terrorist attacks and we share a determination to defeat terrorism and to defend international security.”

Rajoy said it was a “magnificent moment” in relations between Britain and Spain as he thanked the PM for her backing.

The Spanish PM said that “without democracy we would simply be going back to the dark ages” and that constitutional arrangements needed to be safeguarded. On the terror threat, he said: “We have both been dealt serious and very tough blows in recent times. But I do believe that we will win this battle against terrorism. And in order to do so our intelligence services have to work in co-operation with each other.”

The Belgian prosecutor’s office said it was assessing the new situation with regards to extradition.