The Spanish Supreme Court on Thursday dropped sedition charges against former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont over a failed 2017 independence bid that sparked Spain's worst political crisis in decades.
The move follows a reform of Spain's criminal code in December that abolished the offence of sedition and replaced it with the charge of public disorder, which carries softer penalties.
But the court said in a statement that it would maintain lesser charges of misuse of public funds and disobedience against Puigdemont, who lives in self-imposed exile in Belgium to avoid prosecution in Spain and holds a seat in the European Parliament.
The reform, fiercely opposed by the right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP,) also lowered the penalty for misuse of public funds.
Puigdemont, who headed the Catalan government at the time of the independence push, now potentially faces a shorter prison term if he is convicted than was the case before the sedition charge was dropped.
The Supreme Court in 2019 sentenced former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras to 13 years behind bars for sedition and misuse of public funds for his role in the separatist push.
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