CATALONIA, and the trial of 12 pro-independence politicians and civic leaders for their part in organising the 2017 indyref.

The accused, including former vice-president Oriol Junqueras and former ministers, along with Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, who respectively head Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), faced a five-month trial on charges of rebellion, sedition and misusing public funds. That ended on June 12 and many think the verdicts are already a foregone conclusion, with most people simply referring to “the sentences”.

Supreme Court judges led by the indy movement’s bete-noir Manuel Marchena have seen his ruling, but whispers from inside the judiciary appear to indicate some unease.

Marchena, the court president, wants to ensure the judges' decision is unanimous and he has been involved in discussions with his colleagues in a bid to make it so. And he is still upset that former president Carles Puigdemont escaped into exile with some of his ministers, including Clara Ponsati, who is in Scotland.

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Perhaps the most serious charge is rebellion, which Spanish law defines as a “violent, public uprising” to achieve certain goals – in this case Catalan independence.

However, anyone who has seen indy demonstrations in Catalonia will appreciate they are uniquely peaceful in nature – not like the actions of Spain’s National Police who were filmed trying to stop the indyref by beating voters with riot batons in scenes that shocked the world.


LOTS on both sides. In a move reminiscent of preparations made for the indyref – when thousands of officers were billeted on ships in the port of Barcelona – more than 500 of the aforementioned National Police and Guardia Civil have been transferred to Catalonia in readiness for the inevitable protests which would greet guilty findings. More officers are expected as judgement day nears, but indy supporters are also marshalling their resources.

Plans have been prepared to close major roads into and out of Barcelona, the Catalan capital, if the verdicts are as expected.

Flexing their muscles, police last month arrested seven alleged activists who were said to be preparing “violent acts” around the time of the verdicts.

Madrid has also warned that it could take control of Catalonia again – as happened after the 2017 indyref – if its leaders break the law after the verdicts.


MORE than it has in the past.

This case has attracted worldwide attention and, from many quarters, has drawn condemnation, particularly over the police violence during the indyref; the continued detention of the accused; and an Inspector Clouseau-like spying operation in Belgium, where Puigdemont now lives.

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It has also had to cope with criticism of acting foreign minister Josep Borrell, who was yesterday confirmed as the European Commission’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

This is the pro-union Catalan who has insulted most nationalities, was fined €30,000 for insider trading and walked out of a TV interview when he didn’t like questions he was being asked about Catalonia, so just the man for a top diplomatic post.

Now Spain has a PR offensive – and included The National in a mailshot yesterday of a 73-page document outlining why it was right and Catalonia was wrong.

It’s called Information about the Catalan Independence Bid and comes from Espana Global, which was set up last year to take measures “to improve Spain’s image overseas”.

The document seeks to put the government’s spin on the events surrounding the referendum, with no mention of the almost 1000 demonstrators who were hurt in police charges, which didn’t happen.

READ MORE: Pro-indy Catalans are arrested for 'plotting terror'

In a Q and A session, it asks: “Didn’t the United Kingdom recognise the right to self-determination when organising the Scottish referendum?” before answering that neither the agreement signed by Alex Salmond and David Cameron, nor the Act approved by Holyrood, “contains any reference to the right to self-determination”.


IT could be as early as Friday, but it could also happen the following day, October 12, which is Spain’s National Day.

However, this is likely to be seen as extreme provocation in some circles. October 15 is the anniversary of the assassination of Catalan president Lluis Companys, so that’s unlikely, as is the 16th which will mark two years since Sanchez and Cuixart were first detained.

So, sooner rather than later I would guess.