Sun. Feb 24th, 2019

Catalonia independence leaders on trial in Madrid

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The dozen accused appeared in Madrid’s Supreme Court docket on Tuesday morning

A dozen leaders of Catalonia’s failed 2017 independence bid have gone on trial in Madrid, going through costs together with riot and sedition.

If convicted, some may resist 25 years in jail.

The semi-autonomous area of Catalonia held an independence referendum on 1 October 2017, and declared its independence from Spain weeks later.

However Spanish authorities declared the vote unlawful, and the nationwide authorities imposed direct rule.

9 of the defendants have spent months in pre-trial detention, and arrived on the courtroom on Tuesday morning underneath guard. The remaining three had been free on bail.

Essentially the most high-profile of the Catalan leaders on trial is the previous Vice-President Oriol Junqueras. His superior – former President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont – fled overseas and stays in exile.

Mr Junqueras faces the longest potential sentence for the alleged crime of riot, at 25 years. Others accused of the identical cost, together with former speaker of the Catalan parliament Carma Forcadell, may obtain sentences of 16-17 years.

Additionally they face the lesser cost of sedition, as do a number of former ministers. There’s additionally the accusation of misuse of public funds, in organising a referendum that had been declared unlawful by Madrid.

However among the accused, chatting with the BBC forward of the trial, mentioned the proceedings had been political in nature and denied that any violent rebellion had taken place, pointing as a substitute to violence dedicated by police in opposition to voters.

Outdoors the courtroom, giant crowds gathered with each supporters and opponents of Catalonia’s independence bid current.

Spain’s El Pais newspaper reported that many had been blocked from getting into the Supreme Court docket by police – together with, briefly, members of the family of the accused, till some confusion over who was permitted to enter was cleared.

The trial begins nearly a yr and a half after the failed independence bid – which stays controversial.

In Madrid on Sunday, hundreds gathered in a pro-unity demonstration in opposition to Catalan independence.

But the separatists retain vital political energy. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wants votes from pro-independence politicians to move his authorities’s finances invoice via the Spanish parliament.

If that invoice fails, it may collapse the federal government and lead to a snap election.

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