The trial of 12 Catalan separatist leaders for holding what Spain deemed an illegal referendum is underway in Madrid .
Nine are charged with rebellion and three face lesser charges of disobedience and misuse of public funds. Those accused of the most serious charges of rebellion could face up to 25 years in jail.
The Spanish ambassador to London, Carlos Bastarreche says the trial is of “paramount importance to Spain’s reputation as a modern democracy”.
The independence bid sparked Spain’s deepest political crisis since the transition to democracy in the 1970s after the death of dictator Francisco Franco.
The EU threw its full weight behind Madrid’s efforts to repress Catalan demands for independence in the autumn of 2017.
Despite holding democracy as one of its core values, the bloc’s reaction to the Catalonian calls for self-determination shows Brussels’ unwillingness to stand by this principle.
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