THE former Catalan vice-president has described himself as a ‘political prisoner’ as the politicians behind the region’s illegal referendum have gone on trial.
Oriol Junqueras is one of the 12 politicians who organised the vote on Catalunya’s independence vote, and have now gone on trial at Madrid’s Supreme Court.
“This is a political trial and I refuse to answer to my accusers,” he said, “I am a political prisoner and I am on trial for my ideas.”
Nine of the dozen on trial face charges of rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
Others face lesser charges of disobedience and misuse of public funds.
In court Junqueras claimed that Catalan separatism was ‘compatible’ with his ‘love’ for Spain.
“Nothing we have done is a crime and we are innocent of the crimes we are accused of,” he added.
He argued that the result of the 2015 Catalan regional election, in which the separatists won a majority, marked a declaration of independence by Catalans.
The trial comes after Spain’s Constitutional Court declared the October 2017 referendum illegal.
Around 90% of Catalan voters backed independence, but the turn-out at the polls was just 43%.
The trial of the 12 leaders comes at a difficult time for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who saw his Government’s budget proposal rejected by Parliament this week.
Sanchez did not gain the support he needed from Catalan parties and is now expected to call a general election after his Cabinet meets on Friday.