MADRID — Spain is bracing for the nation’s most delicate trial in 4 many years of democracy this week, with a dozen Catalan separatists going through costs together with revolt over a failed secession bid in 2017.

The proceedings, which start Tuesday, will likely be broadcast reside on tv and all eyes will likely be centered on the impartiality of the Spanish Supreme Courtroom.

Catalonia’s separatists have attacked the court docket’s credibility within the run-up to the trial, saying it’s a puppet of the Spanish authorities and any ruling will likely be a political one which has been determined upfront.

“In actuality, it’s democracy itself that can go on trial,” Oriol Junqueras, one of many accused, wrote from jail in reply to questions despatched by The Related Press. “We’re earlier than a trial which, by way of a partial investigation filled with falsities and irregularities, criminalizes a political possibility and an ideology.”

However Supreme Courtroom president Carlos Lesmes dismisses that notion, saying the trial is an important since Spain’s transition to democracy in 1977 after the dying of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.

“This can be a trial following the best requirements set by the European Union,” Lesmes just lately informed a gaggle of journalists.

Lesmes says the result of the trial will reverberate past the political disaster in Catalonia, whereas recognizing that the Supreme Courtroom’s integrity is at stake.

“I actually consider that there’s a enormous marketing campaign to discredit the Spanish judiciary, which kinds a part of a protection technique,” he stated.

Spanish authorities say that the separatists are assured a good trial by the very democracy based on the rule of regulation that they allegedly violated.

Lesmes rejected the concept Spanish courts function on the whim of the federal government, pointing to current responsible verdicts for distinguished members of the political and financial elite, together with final yr’s graft conviction of former members of Rajoy’s then-ruling celebration and the imprisonment, additionally on graft, of the king’s brother-in-law.

Junqueras, the previous vp of the Catalan regional authorities, and 11 others are being tried for his or her roles in holding an independence referendum on Oct. 1, 2017, after ignoring a ban by the nation’s Constitutional Courtroom, and for the following declaration of independence 26 days later regardless of extra warnings from authorities.

The battle with Catalonia has been festering ever since, with a regional election on Dec. 21, 2017, displaying that the 7.5 million residents of Catalonia stay divided by the secession query.

Junqueras himself faces the biggest attainable sentence of 25 years for revolt. He and eight different defendants have spent over a yr in pre-trial custody as a result of they had been thought-about to be flight dangers.

For Junqueras, the explanations are as a substitute “revenge and exemplary punishment.”

“This can be a warning for future generations towards questioning the state’s establishment,” he wrote, “even when that diminishes its personal democracy.”

Junqueras’ boss, former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, and 7 associates fled Spain to different European international locations and have succeeded in avoiding extradition.

Proceedings are more likely to final for at the least three months. The verdicts, and any sentences, could be delivered months later.

Greater than 500 witnesses have been referred to as to testify in court docket, together with former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Catalan and central authorities officers, law enforcement officials and atypical residents.

The cost of revolt will hinge on whether or not the prosecution can set up that the separatists employed violence throughout the breakaway try. Additionally they face costs of sedition, which doesn’t suggest violence, disobedience, and the misuse of public funds.

“Right here they’re accusing our purchasers of a criminal offense of revolt after they didn’t exit on the streets with tanks, or in uniforms or with weapons,” Jordi Pina, the protection lawyer for Turull and two different defendants, informed the AP. “The one factor they did was to permit atypical residents who needed to take a poll and put it in a poll field to take action.”

Politically, the stakes are excessive. A harsh sentence would additional alienate many Catalans, probably even some who haven’t been seduced by the thought of independence. The beginning of the trial coincides with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez needing the help of Catalan separatist events to cross his nationwide finances.

On condition that Europe will likely be carefully observing the case, Sanchez paid a go to final week to the European Council and the European Courtroom of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The case may ultimately find yourself at that European court docket on attraction.

With out straight mentioning Catalonia, Sanchez informed the European Council that Spain protects “the variations and peculiarities of each one in every of its areas” versus “those that maintain political tasks primarily based on false fictions that incite hate and division.”


Joseph Wilson reported from Barcelona.

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