Catalan leader defends push for independence on final day of trial


The former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras has used the last day of landmark proceedings against him and 11 other separatist leaders to defend the failed push for regional independence but also to plead for a political solution to the crisis. The trial, which has lasted four months and heard testimony from 422 witnesses, has examined the events leading up to the unilateral independence referendum on 1 October 2017 and the Catalan parliament’s subsequent declaration of independence.

Nine of the 12 defendants – who include Junqueras; the former speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell; and two influential grassroots activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez – are accused of rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years. Other charges include sedition and the misuse of public funds.

Addressing the judges at the supreme court in Madrid on Wednesday afternoon, Junqueras said: “Voting, or defending the republic in parliament, cannot constitute a crime. When it comes to human rights and fundamental freedoms, having the will to talk, to negotiate, to find agreement, should never be a crime.” He said that although he understood the court had a decision to make, the Catalan question required a political, rather than judicial, answer. “I genuinely believe that the best thing for all of us – for Catalonia, for Spain, for everyone – would be to see this issue returned to the sphere of politics – good politics – an area it should never have left,” he said.(TheGuardian)…[+]