Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has dinner with a member of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) Lorin Parys and Parysأ• guests in Leuven, Belgium, November 16, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. BART VB via REUTERS
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A judge in Brussels will hear arguments behind closed doors from prosecutors and lawyers for the Catalan separatists over Spain's extradition request in the first round of what could become a protracted courtroom battle, with both sides expected to appeal if they lose.The hearing is the latest act in Spain's biggest political crisis in decades, sparked by a banned October 1 referendum that the Catalan parliament then used as a mandate to declare independence.The five who fled to Brussels went to a Belgian police station on November 5 to answer the warrant and were freed that evening after hours of questioning, on condition that they not leave Belgium.The case will be heard by a Dutch-speaking judge -- defendants in linguistically divided Belgium have the option to choose which language the judge hearing their case speaks, and the Catalans have won support from Dutch-speaking Flemish separatists in Belgium.
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