Catalan Leaders Go on Trial in Madrid Over Independence Bid

Twelve Catalan politicians go on trial on Tuesday for his or her position in Catalonia’s failed 2017 independence bid, placing the highlight again on Spain’s largest political disaster in many years which might make it flare as soon as once more.

To the dismay of a lot of the remainder of Spain, Catalonia defied a judicial ban by finishing up a referendum and subsequently unilaterally declaring independence in October 2017.

There was shock at house and overseas when police used batons and rubber bullets on protesters on the day of the vote. Among the Catalan separatist leaders had been later arrested or fled the nation.

The beginning on Tuesday of the trial will refocus consideration on the area’s push for secession which so rattles Spain’s political and cultural identification.

The trial will resolve if Catalan nationalist leaders keep in jail. The general public prosecutor is looking for jail phrases of as much as 25 years on prices of rebel and misuse of public funds. At stake are Spain’s stability, the way forward for Catalonia’s

independence motion in addition to the area’s and the central authorities’s picture overseas.

“It is a very powerful trial now we have had in democracy,” Supreme Court docket president Carlos Lesmes advised reporters on Feb. 1, referring to the return to democracy in Spain after dictator Francisco Franco’s loss of life in 1975.

Raul Romeva, one in all 9 defendants jailed with out bail since late 2017 going through the cost of rebel, has made clear his view that it ought to finish solely with an acquittal.

“A [prison] sentence would weigh perpetually on historical past and on Spain’s future,” Romeva advised Reuters in an interview carried out by e-mail from jail.

On the time of his arrest, Romeva was international minister in Catalonia’s regional authorities and a member of the European Parliament.

Fellow defendants embody veteran Catalan politicians Oriol Junqueras and Carme Forcadell. Notably absent from the listing is former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who’s in self-imposed exile in Belgium and thus can’t be tried in Spain.

FILE - Fugitive Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont addresses the media in Brussels, Belgium, Jan. 24, 2018.

FILE – Fugitive Catalan chief Carles Puigdemont addresses the media in Brussels, Belgium, Jan. 24, 2018.

The dozen’s destiny has been a rallying cry for separatists ever since 2017, stated Federico Santi, analyst at political danger consultancy Eurasia, including that he anticipated, like different observers, that the trial will re-ignite tensions.

Professional-Catalan independence protests had quieted down over the previous months however separatist teams have referred to as a collection of protests in Catalonia and in Madrid to coincide with the trial.

Their supporters say they’re political prisoners, whereas Madrid accuses them of breaking the regulation.

Among the many many witnesses can be Mariano Rajoy, who was Spanish prime minister on the time of the independence vote and its aftermath.


Lluis Orriols, a political science professor at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, thinks the trial will reinvigorate the separatist debate forward of end-Might native and regional elections.

“The Catalan query is activating a nationalistic and identitarian confrontation not solely in Catalonia but in addition in all of Spain,” Orriols stated.

The trial begins because the Socialist authorities, which controls lower than 1 / 4 of seats in parliament, faces a key vote on the 2019 price range on Wednesday. A failure to approve the price range proposal might immediate a snap parliamentary election this 12 months.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez depends on smaller events, and particularly Catalan nationalists, to get the price range adopted. These have stated they might block the invoice, citing their dissatisfaction with Sanchez’s coverage in direction of the area, regardless of his efforts for dialog.

Alternatively, Spain’s right-wing events accuse Sanchez of being too tender with Catalan separatists. On Sunday, 1000’s gathered in Madrid to protest Sanchez’ Catalan insurance policies.

In Catalonia, assist for the twelve just isn’t unanimous. The inhabitants is essentially break up in two between those that favor remaining a part of Spain and people desirous to secede.

After imposing direct rule on Catalonia in October 2017, Madrid referred to as recent regional elections that December in a bid to curb the independence motion. However the transfer backfired and the secessionists retained a slim majority within the Catalan meeting.

The final time a trial for rebel was held in Spain was in 1982 after a failed army coup try. Its chief, discovered responsible of rebel by a army court docket, was sentenced to 30 years of jail.