Unprecedented and historic — that is how the Supreme Court trial of a dozen Catalan separatist leaders that ended today is being described.
The proceedings, which began in February, saw them face charges of rebellion, disobedience and misuse of public funds, all related to the independence referendum held on October 1, 2017.
The vote was declared illegal by the Spanish government, which moved to punish those involved immediately.
The high-profile trial — that has heard from more than 300 witnesses and rejected at least 50 — came to an end on Wednesday with the final statements of the defendants.
A verdict is expected in the autumn.
“The nuclear question is whether or not there has been violence that integrates the crime of rebellion,” said the spokesman for the professional association for Spanish judges Judges for Democracy (Juezas y Jueces para la Democracia) Ignacio González Vega.
He believes that “accusations are still based on the fact that (the declaration of independence on October 1) was a planned plot spread out through time with episodes of violence while the defence still argues that the declaration of independence was made without any violence.”
González Vega doesn’t recall any other trial like this one that was broadcast live on television from beginning to end.
“This is a way for citizens to supervise the jurisdictional activity of the Spanish courts and that is enough motivation to forgo an international observer,” noted González Vega.
Transparency was key for a trial that many independentists have been calling a “farce”. It became a test for the public image of the Spanish judicial system, which the spokesman defended: “It responds to European standards on justice and preserves rights and guarantees.”
González Vega believes that “political pressure cannot be ignored” but that the experience and professionalism of the judges make them immune to these pressures.