Catalan ex-official testifies he’s a ‘political prisoner’

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MADRID (AP) — A former Catalan official accused of main a violent revolt to create an unbiased republic in northeastern Spain advised a high court docket in Madrid on Thursday that he considers himself “a political prisoner.”

Oriol Junqueras, who was the vice chairman of the Catalan Cupboard that went forward with a banned secession referendum in October 2017, was the primary of a dozen separatist leaders to testify within the a lot anticipated Supreme Courtroom trial.

With ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont avoiding prosecution by fleeing to Belgium, Junqueras is the highest-ranking official prosecuted within the case. He faces as much as 25 years behind bars if discovered responsible for revolt and misuse of public funds.

Gesturing vividly along with his arms and answering questions solely from his lawyer, Junqueras emphatically rejected the costs and made a robust protection of the Catalan independence motion as non-violent.

“Any noble objective may be immoral if the mechanisms to realize it are indecent,” he stated. “That is legitimate for the Catalan republic, for the Spanish monarchy, for Europe or anything.”

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The chief of the Catalan left-wing pro-republic get together had begun his testimony by telling the panel of seven judges that he’s “being accused for my concepts and never for my deeds.” He additionally declined to reply questions by prosecutors as a result of he regards the trial as a “political” one.

“I contemplate myself a political prisoner,” he stated.

Beforehand, and responding to allegations made by the Catalans’ protection attorneys, presiding Decide Manuel Marchena stated that questioning throughout the trial would solely be allowed to give attention to info, not ideology.

The decide accepted among the allegations by the defendants. He allowed them to reply questions of their Catalan mom tongue.

Courtroom officers had stated that publicizing the trial with full transparency was essential to disarming the Catalan separatists’ arguments that the proceedings had been neutral and tainted by politics.

Junqueras selected to talk in Spanish. He stated that gave him the chance to handle the Spanish public after one yr and a half in preventive custody, which he known as “a compelled silence.”

The 2017 referendum led to an independence declaration, however no motion was taken to implement it and no nations acknowledged the brand new Catalan republic. Rather less than half of voters within the area of seven.5 million help pro-independence events, outcomes of the final regional election present.

The dramatic occasions led to a political disaster nonetheless reverberating in Spain’s political life. Catalan separatist events that final yr supported a nationwide Socialist administration with minority backing in parliament have dropped their cooperation this week after the prime minister refused to open talks on the area’s self-determination.

The dispute has put the Spanish chief, Pedro Sanchez, below stress to name an early basic election.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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