THE trial of 12 defendants charged in connection to the Catalan independence referendum and declaration reopens tomorrow (Tuesday), with one having claimed he was a political prisoner last week.
Oriol Junqueras, who served as Vice President under former Generalitat head Carles Puigdemont during the independence push, said he was being judged for his ideas and not his actions.
Junqueras is one of 12 defendants standing trial at the Supreme Court in Madrid.
They are accused of various charges in connection with the referendum including sedition, rebellion and misusing public funds, with the most severe charges carrying 25-year jail terms. All deny any wrongdoing.
Junqueras told the court and presiding Judge Manuel Marchena that he had been held as a political prisoner since his arrest in November 2017.
The leader of the leftist Esquerra Rebpulicana de Catalunya (ERC) added the referendum and independence declaration of October 1 and 27 respectively had been conducted peacefully.
“Nothing we have done is a crime and we are innocent of the crimes we are accused of. We are republicans first and then separatists, but above all we are democrats,” he said.
“Voting is not a crime, but preventing votes by force is,” Junqueras added, referring to riot police being sent to Catalan towns and cities on the day of the referendum.
“Votar no és delicte, impedir-ho per la força, sí. Gràcies a tots per tornar a omplir els carrers de Barcelona, com sempre, de forma pacífica i cívica” pic.twitter.com/Vbo5bmcmPX
— Oriol Junqueras 🎗️ (@junqueras) February 16, 2019
Prosecutors claim Junqueras and other defendants broke the law when holding their referendum and declaring independence. The Supreme Court ruled ahead of the vote that it was illegal under Spain’s Constitution.
Judge Marchena had previously said that prosecution and defence arguments should stick to legal points and not become political. The trial is expected to last three months and continues this week.