People wave 'Esteladas' (pro-independence Catalan flags) as they gather during a pro-independence demonstration, on September 11, 2017

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Getty Photographs

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Three weeks earlier than the vote, pro-independence activists had been in excessive spirits

Writing from his jail cell, the previous vice-president of Catalonia is aware of he’s going through a possible 25 years in jail for insurrection.

Oriol Junqueras is considered one of a dozen former political leaders going through trial over his area’s independence bid in October 2017. Some stand accused of a violent rebellion – one they are saying by no means occurred.

There aren’t any apologies – Mr Junqueras insists on his innocence, telling the BBC that the “trial is an motion towards an ideology and towards political dissent”.

“It is a judgement on democracy,” he stated, and one “which creates a harmful precedent for all of Europe”.

One other defendant fears they’ll face a court docket stacked towards them, with a “pre-determined consequence”.

However the Spanish authorities has defended the method, insisting the accused will get a good trial – whereas the remainder of the world watches.

Controversy in Catalonia

The 12 accused face expenses together with insurrection, sedition and the misuse of public funds for his or her half within the 2017 push for independence from Spain.

A disputed referendum – through which a majority of those that took half backed independence – was held within the territory on 1 October 2017.

Somewhat greater than three weeks later, the parliament in Barcelona voted to declare Catalonia an impartial republic.

But the referendum noticed a low turnout, and had been declared unlawful by Spain’s Constitutional Court docket. Madrid stepped in to impose its rule on the area, and several other Catalan leaders fled or had been arrested.

A 12 months and a half later, the vote remains to be controversial.

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Media captionWhat occurred to Catalonia? One 12 months on

On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of Madrid to demonstrate their support for a united country forward of the trial.

And Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has come underneath stress for his makes an attempt at dialogue with the management in Catalonia.

Prosecutors allege the accused – who embrace ex-ministers, the previous speaker of the regional parliament and the leaders of pro-independence organisations – acted towards Spain’s structure, which ensures “the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation”.

All deny the costs towards them.

Mr Junqueras – essentially the most senior member of the then Catalan authorities to not flee the nation – stated the trial was politically motivated.

The previous vice-president refutes the cost of insurrection, which Spanish legislation defines as a “violent, public rebellion” to attain objectives corresponding to “the independence of part of the nationwide territory”.

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Police conflict with voters at polling stations in October 2017

“Ours has been a particularly peaceable course of and so these crimes are completely non-existent in our case. The one violence has been that utilized by the Nationwide Police and Civil Guard on 1 October towards voters who had been attempting to place a paper in a poll field,” he stated.

The Catalan authorities stated greater than 900 folks had been injured as police tried to grab poll packing containers and shut polling stations.

‘A pre-determined consequence’

In November, more than 100 legal experts from across Spain signed an open letter (in Spanish) condemning the use of the charge of rebellion within the Catalan case.

In an unique interview, Mr Sánchez, the previous president of the Catalan Nationwide Meeting (ANC), stated: “Even those that accuse us of insurrection do not consider it. The place was the rebellion? It is a whole farce.”

Mr Sánchez additionally accuses politicians in Madrid of attempting to affect the trial.

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The vote led to temporary celebrations – however an impartial Catalonia has but to emerge

“The judges had been chosen by the political events to manage it and impose a pre-determined consequence,” he stated. “Regardless of every part, they have not accepted our objections. There may be nothing extra to say. It will likely be a trial with political goals.”

The prime minister disagrees. Talking on a go to to Strasbourg forward of the beginning of the trial, he stated that in Spain “particular person rights, public freedoms and the rights of minorities are assured and guarded”.

The trial is predicted to final round three months.

An extended witness checklist contains the Spanish prime minister on the time of the referendum, Mariano Rajoy.

Who’re the imprisoned independence leaders?

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AFP

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These awaiting trial in Lledoners jail embrace (L-R) Jordi Sánchez, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Cuixart, Josep Rull and Raul Romeva. All keep their innocence

There are 12 defendants, 9 of whom have already spent greater than 10 months in jail awaiting the beginning of the trial.

Among the many most senior figures are:

  • Oriol Junqueras, the previous vice-president and the highest-ranking pro-independence chief after his superior, Carles Puigdemont, fled the nation
  • Carme Forcadell was the speaker of Catalan Parliament when it voted to declare a republic, studying out the choice – she remained free till March final 12 months
  • Jordi Sánchez, the previous president of the Catalan Nationwide Meeting, was nominated to succeed Mr Puigdemont, however deserted the concept when he was not allowed to depart jail for the vote
  • Jordi Cuixart, president of Omnium Cultural – a Catalan language and tradition organisation – and a grassroots independence activist

In December, Ms Forcadell appealed towards her imprisonment to the European Court docket of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

Amnesty Worldwide has known as for the discharge of Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, who’ve been in jail since 16 October 2017.

Additionally going through trial are Joaquim Forn, former inside minister; Jordi Turull, former Catalan authorities spokesman; Raül Romeva, former exterior relations minister; Dolors Bassa, former labour minister; Josep Rull, former territorial minister; Carles Mundó, former justice minister; Meritxell Borràs, former governance minister; and Santi Vila, former enterprise minister.