A BRUSSELS court yesterday dealt another blow to Spain’s attempts to extradite Catalan politicians who moved to other European countries to avoid arrest following last October’s independence referendum.

A Belgian judge dismissed the European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) for three deposed Catalan ministers, Toni Comin, Meritxell Serret and Lluis Puig, who face charges in Spain including rebellion and misuse of public funds.

The warrants, which were issued, dropped and then later reinstated by Spain, were not valid, the Brussels court ruled. It backed the Belgian public prosecutor’s case that the re-issued EAWs should have been backed up by new Spanish arrest warrants to ensure their validity.

In April, a German court rejected an extradition request for Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont on the charge of rebellion for his role in the indyref campaign. He is in Berlin awaiting a German court’s decision on an extradition order for the lesser charge of misuse of public funds.

Comín said: “This decision... shows that Spain is abusing the criminal code to persecute democratically elected politicians.”

Puig said the Belgian decision could have a knock-on effect on cases affecting Clara Ponsati in Scotland and Puigdemont.

And Quim Torra, Catalan president-elect, wrote on Twitter: “As in Belgium, justice will win in Germany, Scotland, and Switzerland.”

Catalan Parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, said: “This is good news that shows these accusations to be false.”

Puigdemont said: “This is good news that shows that, in Europe, rights are guaranteed beyond political opinions.”

Fury replaced joy in Spain, where the Supreme Court – including the judge who issued the warrants, Pablo Llarena – condemned the Belgian ruling, accusing Belgium of a “lack of commitment” in cooperating with Spain. According to court sources, only “ignorance of the Spanish legal framework”, could explain the decision.

The prosecution and defence sides in Belgium both agreed the warrants had “procedural defects” and some “irregularities”.

Belgian prosecutors added that their counterparts in Spain would not be able to appeal against the decision.