Catalan party leader Oriol Junqueras refused bail as poll nears

The Ibex35 could be a bet for 2018

The Ibex35 could be a bet for 2018

Puigdemont plans to lead his party's campaign for the December 21 election called by Spain's government in an attempt to find a democratic fix to the nation's worst institutional crisis in almost four decades. Junqueras was unseated along with ex-president Carles Puigdemont and the rest of Puigdemont's Cabinet after regional lawmakers passed a declaration of independence that Spanish authorities deemed illegal.

Puigdemont and Junqueras, the two leading candidates for Catalonia's presidency - if the separatist front should win, as forecast by polls -, will have to campaign respectively from Brussels and from jail.

However, a final decision may not come until well after the election because of appeals.

The lawyers of Puigdemont and the four former Catalan ministers argued that the facts are not punishable in Belgium and that in case of extradition to Spain there is a risk of infringement of their clients' fundamental rights.

The five Catalan officials fled to Belgium and are refusing to return to Spain to face possible rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges over the push for independence.

Puigdemont and exadvisors have already entered to testify in prosecution with ir lawyers. Polls predict a close race between the pro- and anti-independence camps.

A poll carried out in November by the central government's influential Sociological Research Centre (CIS) predicted that the three pro-independence parties would get only up to 67 parliamentary seats out of 135, just under the absolute majority of 68.

Llarena set bail at $118,000 for the six other Catalan politicians. But 53-year-old contractor Jose Luis Aguirre said the attempt to unilaterally break away from Spain "is an act that can not be allowed".

Madrid hopes the elections will restore normality to the wealthy northeastern region, which declared independence in vain following the referendum.

According to a Supreme Court statement, the judge ruled that, while he considered there was no risk the defendants would leave the country, it remained to be seen if their pledges to respect Spanish law and renounce unilateral independence for Catalonia were "truthful and real".

But Marta Rovira, Junqueras's deputy in his ERC party, said the decision was politically motivated.

"Those who commit criminal acts must place themselves at the mercy of legal rulings", Zoido said.

Former Vice President Oriol Junqueras, former Interior Minister Joaquim Forn, and the leaders of the Catalonia National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, Jordi S-nchez and Jordi Cuixar, face charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Bryan Singer Fired from 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Film
First trailer and images for Netflix's cyberpunk sci-fi Altered Carbon