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Spanish Supreme Court to rule whether Catalan separatists are guilty of rebellion

Europe

14 October 2019, 10:29

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Spain’s Supreme Court is set to rule on Monday whether Catalan leaders who orchestrated the 2017 independence referendum are guilty of rebellion.

The 12 Catalan separatists also face charges of disobedience and misuse of public funds and could face up to 25 years in prison.

The charges all relate to the independence referendum held in Catalonia on October 1, 2017. The vote was declared illegal by the Spanish government, which moved to punish those involved immediately.

Among the most famous defendants are former leader Carles Puigdemont — who remains in self-imposed exile — and Orio Junqueras, the former deputy leader of Catalonia and head of the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana party.

Nine other defendants have been in jail for over a year and a half after they were denied bail.

The high-profile trial started in February and saw more than 300 witnesses testify. When it ended in mid-June, Ignacio González Vega, the spokesman for the professional association for Spanish Judges for Democracy, said that “the nuclear question is whether or not there has been violence that integrates the crime of rebellion”.

He believes that “accusations are still based on the fact that (the declaration of independence on October 1) was a planned plot spread out through time with episodes of violence while the defence still argues that the declaration of independence was made without any violence.”

Some Catalan separatists have, however, accused the country’s courts of being heavily influenced by politicians.

If the Supreme Court rules against them, the defendants will be able to appeal to the Constitutional Court and then the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Pro-independence supporters gathered in Barcelona on Sunday to protest the trial with the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural both calling for further protests following the ruling, including in capitals across the EU.

On Saturday, some 10,000 people marched in Madrid on the country’s National Day to protest Catalan independence.

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