Verdict awaited in trial of leaders of Catalan independence push

Today marks the second anniversary of the Catalan independence referendum that sparked a political crisis in Spain. Tensions are currently

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Photo: Emilio Naranjo

Today marks the second anniversary of the Catalan independence referendum that sparked a political crisis in Spain.

Tensions are currently high in Catalonia ahead of a verdict—expected in the next two weeks—in the trial of 12 separatist leaders for their role in the independence campaign. Nine of those leaders are charged with rebellion and, if found guilty, could be imprisoned for 25 years.

The ruling will depend on whether the Spanish Supreme Court deems the leaders to have incited violence. Regardless, the court’s ruling will have an important effect on the Catalan independence movement.

The independence campaign has sputtered since the 2017 referendum, largely due to disagreements within the separatist bloc on whether to adopt a confrontational or conciliatory approach toward Madrid. A guilty verdict would likely unite the separatists in favour of the former approach and may boost popular support for Catalan independence—a July poll found that 44% are in favour of creating an independent state and 48% against.

On the other hand, a non-guilty verdict could boost Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s attempts at dialogue to de-escalate tensions, although fundamental differences between Madrid and Barcelona means the independence issue will always simmer.

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