THE saga over the display of yellow ribbons in Catalonia in support of the jailed independence leaders moved onto a stage yesterday with the appearance of Catalan President Quim Torra in court charged with disobedience.

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Torra was ordered by Spain’s electoral authority, the JEC, to remove the “partisan symbols”, from public buildings before the April election. However, yesterday he told the High Court of Catalonia the board “had no right” to make the order. The president admitted disobeying the instruction, but said it was an “illegal” and a contravention of the right to freedom of expression.

“No, I did not comply. Let’s say it differently: yes, I disobeyed it,” said Torra. “But it was impossible to comply with an illegal order.

“All members of this room know it. It was an illegal order issued by an organ that did not have the competence to dictate it.”

Prosecutors are seeking a 20-month ban on him holding public office and a €30,000 (£25,600) fine. “The JEC is not a hierarchical organ superior to the president of the [Catalan Government] Generalitat and because they did not have any jurisdiction in this case were elections to the Spanish Courts and the Generalitat did not participate in this electoral process,” he said. “I objected to the writs of the JEC.

“These challenges are in process in the Supreme Court, in the admirable administrative appeal.

“What is surprising is that we are celebrating this trial without this other procedure being over but, sometimes, justice run very often very little. I deny that yellow bows are either partisan or propaganda.”