Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont made to wait for extradition decision

Spain's Catalonia sees visitor numbers drop in separatist crisis

Spain's Catalonia sees visitor numbers drop in separatist crisis

But six other former ministers who were also remanded in custody last month will be released on bail of £82,000. The six were expected to leave jails near Madrid later in the day.

Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four former ministers are in exile in Belgium on the wake of an arrest warrant and extradition request issued by Spain.

Puigdemont's defense lawyer, Paul Bekaert, insisted that the Spanish charges weren't punishable in Belgium and thus there were no grounds for extradition.

Puigdemont and four of his ministers left Spain after the regional government was dismissed for unilaterally declaring Catalonia independent following a referendum on secession.

The early election is an attempt to find a democratic way out of the nation's worst crisis in almost four decades.

"Whatever happens, they will be in Brussels until the 21st of December, and I believe it will be until mid-January in theory", Jaume Alonso Cuevillas told Catalonia Rac1 radio station.

The central government's Sociological Research Centre (CIS) predicted that the three pro-independence parties would get 44.4 percent of the votes and 66 to 67 parliamentary seats out of 135, just under the absolute majority of 68.

ERC was part of the former Catalan ruling coalition with Puigdemont's conservative party but is leading the polls before the new election. Official campaigning begins at midnight on Monday. The Belgian judiciary's procedure should last two months.

Junqueras faces charges of rebellion, sedition and the misuse of public funds, while the two leaders of two Catalan grassroots separatist groups, known as the "two Jordis", face sedition charges and have so far spent 45 days in prison.

The judge considers that it remains to be seen if their pledges to abide by Spanish law and renounce unilateral independence for Catalonia is "truthful and real", according to a statement by the court.

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