Twelve Catalan separatist leaders went on trial in Madrid on Tuesday over a failed independence bid that laid bare historical divisions and triggered Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades. Flanked by hundreds of police, pro- and anti-separatist demonstrators gathered outside the Supreme Court, where the defendants face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. The politically charged trial, which is expected to last at least three months, comes at a pivotal time for Spain’s government. A snap national election is likely unless Catalan nationalist lawmakers change tack by ending their opposition to the 2019 budget in a vote on Wednesday.
Around one million people have taken to the streets of Barcelona to demand Catalonia’s independence from Spain and call for the release of jailed secessionists. The annual celebration is the first since Catalonia’s failed attempt to break away from Spain last October. September 11 marks La Diada, the day Barcelona lost the battle to troops loyal to King Philip V in the 1714 War of Spanish Succession.
Following Catalonia’s failed independence declaration in October, the pro-independence parties have managed to maintain their parliamentary majority after an early vote called by the Spanish government, in hopes of quieting the separation movement. While no single party won an outright majority, the three separatist parties earned enough seats to govern if joined in a coalition.