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Catalan leaders go on trial in Madrid over independence bid


MADRID/BARCELONA: Twelve Catalan politicians go on trial on Tuesday for his or her function in Catalonia's failed 2017 independence bid, putting the spotlight back on Spain's greatest political disaster in many years which might make it flare once once more.

To the dismay of a lot of the rest of Spain, Catalonia defied a judicial ban by sporting out a referendum and therefore unilaterally declaring independence in October 2017.

There was surprise at home and in another country when police used batons and rubber bullets on protesters at the day of the vote. Some of the Catalan separatist leaders had been later arrested or fled the rustic.

The get started on Tuesday of the trial will refocus attention at the area's push for secession which so rattles Spain's political and cultural identity.

The trial will decide if Catalan nationalist leaders stay in prison. The public prosecutor is seeking prison phrases of up to 25 years on charges of rebel and misuse of public price range. At stake are Spain's stability, the way forward for Catalonia's independence movement as well as the area's and the central executive's symbol in another country.

"It's the most important trial we have had in democracy", Supreme Court president Carlos Lesmes instructed journalists on Feb. 1, referring to the return to democracy in Spain after dictator Francisco Franco's demise in 1975.

Raul Romeva, one in all 9 defendants jailed without bail since overdue 2017 facing the price of rebel, has made clear his view that it must end handiest with an acquittal.

"A (prison) sentence would weigh forever on history and on Spain's future," Romeva instructed in an interview carried out by electronic mail from prison.

At the time of his arrest, Romeva was overseas minister in Catalonia's regional executive and a member of the European Parliament.

Fellow defendants come with veteran Catalan politicians Oriol Junqueras and Carme Forcadell. Notably absent from the checklist is former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who's in self-imposed exile in Belgium and thus can't be attempted in Spain.

The dozen's destiny has been a rallying cry for separatists ever since 2017, stated Federico Santi, analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia, including that he anticipated, like other observers, that the trial will rekindle tensions.

Pro-Catalan independence protests had quieted down over the last months but separatist teams have referred to as a series of protests in Catalonia and in Madrid to coincide with the trial.

Their supporters say they're political prisoners, while Madrid accuses them of breaking the law.

Among the numerous witnesses might 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 ahead of end-May local and regional elections.

"The Catalan question is activating a nationalistic and identitarian confrontation not only in Catalonia but also in all of Spain," Orriols stated.

The trial starts because the Socialist executive, which controls not up to 1 / 4 of seats in parliament, faces a key vote at the 2019 budget on Wednesday. A failure to approve the budget proposal may steered a snap parliamentary election this yr.

Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez is dependent upon smaller events, and particularly Catalan nationalists, to get the budget adopted. These have stated they might block the bill, citing their dissatisfaction with Sanchez's policy against the area, in spite of his efforts for discussion. .


On the opposite hand, Spain's right-wing events accuse Sanchez of being too comfortable with Catalan separatists. On Sunday, thousands gathered in Madrid to protest Sanchez' Catalan policies.


In Catalonia, fortify for the twelve isn't unanimous. The inhabitants is in large part break up in two between those who favour closing a part of Spain and the ones short of to secede.


After enforcing direct rule on Catalonia in October 2017, Madrid referred to as fresh regional elections that December in a bid to curb the independence movement. But the move backfired and the secessionists retained a narrow majority in the Catalan meeting.


The remaining time a tribulation for rebel was held in Spain was in 1982 after a failed military coup strive. Its leader, discovered accountable of rebel by a military court, was sentenced to 30 years of prison.


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