(Bloomberg) -- European Union judges paved the way for the extradition of the former Catalonia separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, after ruling that a Belgian court could only block his return if there’s a serious risk he might not get a fair trial in Spain. 

A European arrest warrant request by Spain can only be refused if “there are systemic or generalized deficiencies affecting the judicial system of that member state and that the court called upon to try the requested person in that member state clearly lacks jurisdiction,” the Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice said Tuesday. 

Puigdemont, the leader of a botched independence proclamation in 2017, remains a divisive figure in Spain as voters gear up for regional elections in May and a general vote expected later this year that will decide the fate of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

His extradition could put Sanchez, widely expected to run for re-election, in a difficult position and give ammunition to the opposition that claims he has made too many concessions to separatist politicians in order to secure a majority in parliament.

In office since 2018, Sanchez has tried to ease tensions with Catalan pro-independence politicians, setting up a negotiating table and pardoning of nine jailed separatist leaders a few years ago. But, he has said that Puigdemont needs to face justice and ruled out an amnesty for those who led the secession movement.

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