Spanish court withdraws arrest warrant for former Catalan President Puigdemont

Catalonia leader Puigdemont to stay in Belgium 'for now'

The surprise decision came just a day after Puigdemont and his allies attended an extradition hearing from their exile in Brussels.

On Tuesday, Spain's Supreme Court withdrew a European arrest warrant for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four other former Catalan lawmakers.

Besides private vehicles and commercial flights, organisers said 250 buses and at least five chartered flights had been organised to transport demonstrators from Catalonia to Belgium.

Protesters arrived in a stream of coaches and camper vans with Spanish registration plates and gathered in the Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels' European quarter before the start of the march at 1030 GMT, (6:30pm Malaysia time).

Their route is taking them past the headquarters of the European Commission and they will end up in a square between the European Council and European Parliament.

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The demonstration was organised by Omnium Cultural and the Assemblea Nacional Catalana, two pro-independence groups, and was attended by political figures from the region, including the deputy leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the party now leading the polls for the December 21 election.

The EU, meanwhile, has strongly backed the Spanish government over the Catalan issue, saying that it is an internal matter for Madrid.

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.

Puidgemont's former deputy Oriol Junqueras, another cabinet member and two independence activists have already been jailed in Spain.

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