DPA, 14th OCTOBER, 2019 - Spain’s supreme court sentenced nine of 12 accused Catalonian separatist leaders on Monday to between nine and 13 years in prison over their roles in an attempt to secede from the country.
The sentencing occurred more than two years after an October 2017 referendum to declare Spain’s north-eastern Catalonia region, which includes the city of Barcelona, as an independent state.
A Spanish court ahead of the voting had declared the referendum attempt illegal. The accused included the region’s former vice president, Oriol Junqueras. He received the longest sentence.
During the trial nearly 600 witnesses were called, including conservative former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who was in office when the referendum was held.
The region’s former president, Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium as the Spanish government sought to arrest him shortly after the referendum, was not one of the 12 on trial.
Puigdemont’s successor, Quim Torra, vowed on the referendum’s October 1 anniversary that the fight for an independent Catalonia would continue.
“We will continue, without any excuses, to make the Catalan republic a reality,” he told a ceremony in Barcelona at the time.
About 600,000 independence supporters rallied in Barcelona last month on the National Day of Catalonia.
The September 11 holiday marks Spain’s 1714 conquest of the city during the War of the Spanish Succession, which resulted in Catalonia’s loss of independence.