MADRID: Catalonia’s 2017 secession bid was a “coup d’etat” aimed at “wiping out the Spanish constitution,” a prosecutor said in his closing statement at the trial of 12 separatists in Madrid.

Javier Zaragoza told the Supreme Court this “coup d’etat” was an attempt “to substitute a legal order by another via illegal means”.

The Catalan separatist leaders have been on trial since February 12 over their role in organising a referendum on secession, despite a court ban, which was followed by a short-lived declaration of independence in October 2017. The trial is due to end on June 12.

Nine of the 12 are in jail, considered “political prisoners” by supporters of independence in the northeastern region — a claim categorically rejected by Zaragoza. “We’re not going after political opinions,” he said.

The defendants are on trial for “having tried to wipe out the Spanish constitution of 1978” by using “violence when it was necessary,” he added.

In a document published last week, prosecutors maintained the charge of rebellion against the nine defendants, a controversial offence that implies “rising up in a violent and public manner”.

They also confirmed they would be seeking the same sentences they had asked for before the trial started.

Catalonia’s former vice-president Oriol Junqueras risks up to 25 years in jail, the heaviest sentence.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2019