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Spain: Catalan Leaders Stand Trial for 2017 Independence Bid

HeadlineFeb 13, 2019

In Spain, a trial kicked off Tuesday for 12 leaders of the Catalan separatist movement over their role in Catalonia’s bid for independence. In 2017, the central government cracked down on separatists, arresting political leaders and charging them with “rebellion,” following an independence referendum in October 2017 and the Catalan Parliament’s declaration of independence. Lawyers for the defendants have condemned legal proceedings, saying it’s unlikely they will get a fair trial and that democracies should not have political prisoners. This is Catalan President Quim Torra, speaking about the trial.

President Quim Torra: “We are before an act of revenge against people who decided to decide, against people who defended ballot boxes against batons, people that put their bodies at risk to grant a better future. And it is precisely this that some have not tolerated and claimed for revenge. They wanted to punish them.”

The trial came two days after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Madrid Sunday to denounce Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s plan to hold talks with Catalan politicians. The protest was called by conservative leaders in Spain, including the far-right Vox party, which opposes any moves to negotiate with the pro-independence movement. In Barcelona, thousands marched Tuesday in a pro-independence rally in a show of support for the separatist leaders.

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