Madrid’s Supreme Court on Tuesday started the trial of twelve Catalan separatist leaders for holding an independence referendum in October 2017 despite a judicial ban and for declaring independence from Spain.
Separatist officials held protests near the courthouse dismissing the trial as a politically-motivated "farce", carrying banners reading "Deciding is not an offence".
Catalonia's former President, Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium, is not among the defendants given that Spain does not try suspects in absentia.
The tried suspects include Puigdemont's former deputy, Oriol Junqueras, who is facing 25 years in jail, along with members of Catalonia's then executive, the two leaders of powerful pro-independence associations, ANC and Omnium Cultural, and the former president of the Catalan parliament.
All of the 11 defendants are facing jail terms of seven to 17 years.
Nine defendants have been charged with rebellion, with some also accused of misuse of public funds. The three others are accused of disobedience and misuse of public funds.