Spanish court orders four Catalan leaders to remain in jail

Ex-Catalan President, Ministers Face Extradition Hearing in Belgium While Spain Campaigns

With political campaigning not set to get underway until midnight, Catalan pro-independence groups held protests in front of town halls to oppose the Supreme Court's decision to keep some of the independence movement's leaders in custody.

The lawyers for Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont and four of his separatist allies say that the five will be judged on whether they can be extradited from Belgium to Spain on December 14, exactly one week before a key regional election in Catalonia in which they are all running for re-election.

The former Catalonia leader and four of his former ministers fled to Belgium in October, claiming they would not get a fair trial in Spain.

Spanish prosecutors want to prosecute Puigdemont and his former ministers for rebellion-which carries a maximum 30-year jail sentence-and sedition for their role in the independence drive, as well as for misusing public funds.

A Spanish judge has ruled against the release from jail of Catalonia's former deputy president Oriol Junqueras, of former interior minister Joachim Forn and of separatist leaders Jordi Sanches and Jordi Cixart, over a "risk of reiteration of the crime", on the assumption that "their actions were directly linked to an outburst of violence".

The judge shall decide, at end of hearing, date on which he will issue his decision on Spanish euro├│rdenes weighing against m, that magistrate may resolve this Monday or postpone to anor day "if necessary", and that he is to be communicated to press by prosecutor's Office Med Her email. They are accused of alleged "rebellion" for "promoting Catalonia's independence" as part of their political agenda.

Eight former Catalan officials jailed near Madrid have pledged to give up unilateral independence for the wealthy region in the hope of being freed.

Puigdemont, who remains the candidate for the regional elections, believes he will be reinstated as the "legitimate President" if he wins.

A government-commissioned poll says that pro-independence parties will lose their slim majority in the Catalan parliament in elections later this month, foreshadowing a complicated route to post-election deals to form a new government. It had ERC, Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) and the far-left anti-establishment CUP party winning 66 or 67 of the parliament's 135 seats.

The poll showed parties that back Spanish unity would capture 68-69 seats.

The remaining ex ministers and former regional president Carles Puigdemont are in Belgium, fighting extradition to Spain.

Both groups called for Catalans to come out to vote in December 21 regional elections.

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