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‘Serious irregularities’ in Catalan trial claim two human rights groups

Two human rights groups have denounced ‘serious irregularities’ in the Catalan independence trial, with its verdict expected to be announced by Spain’s Supreme Court in the coming days.

In a joint report published on Wednesday, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and EuroMed Rights concluded that the judicial process against the 12 politicians and activists charged for calling a referendum and declaring independence in the fall of 2017 ‘didn’t offer the minimum guarantees to be qualified as fair’.

The two organisations alleged that judges didn’t do enough to ensure that lawyers could shed light on the alleged facts – for instance, when they prevented defence teams from contrasting the testimony of some witnesses with actual footage from the scenes they were describing.

Catalan Trial: click here full details of those accused, the charges, and the accusers.

Former Catalan leaders including (from front row right to left) Oriol Junqueras, Raul Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Sanchez, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Jordi Cuixart, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Carles Mundo, Santi Vila and Meritxel Borras attend their trial at the Supreme Court in Madrid on 12 February 2019. (Emilio Naranjo / POOL / AFP)

Observers from the two organisations, who attended the Supreme Court hearings in person, said that prosecutors called witnesses whose testimonies offered ‘stereotypical’ narratives and didn’t guarantee the right to defence.

After a trial spanning four months, nine of the accused were charged by the public prosecutor with the crime of rebellion, carrying prison sentences of up to 25 years.

ALSO READ: Catalan trial: controversy over ‘rebellion’ and violence

Throughout the process, defence teams denounced what they saw as repeated violations of their clients’ rights to defence and to a fair trial. The Supreme Court is due to decide on such allegations when the verdict is announced in the coming days.

FIDH and EuroMed Rights also criticised that prosecutors presented as evidence documents to which defence teams had not been guaranteed prior access.

Click here for all articles and updates on the Catalan Trial

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