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Ex-Catalan VP's lawyer in last bid defence at separatist trial

File photo of Oriol Junqueras. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Madrid, Spain Jun 11, 2019, 09.46 PM (IST)

A lawyer for Oriol Junqueras, on trial in Madrid over Catalonia's 2017 secession bid, said Tuesday the region's former vice-president never committed rebellion as charged, though there may have been "disobedience".

Andreu Van den Eynde spoke on what is scheduled to be the penultimate day in the four-month Supreme Court trial of Junqueras and 11 others over a failed attempt to prise Catalonia from Spain in October 2017.

Junqueras risks 25 years in jail for misuse of public funds and rebellion, a serious offence which under Spanish law implies a violent uprising.

In a two-hour intervention, Van den Eynde tried to pick apart the prosecutors' case, arguing that rebellion was being mistaken for "disobedience".

"Everything is an exaggeration, everything is noise and this noise... appears in the vocabulary, I wrote it down during the whole trial," he told the court.

"'They were entrenched', 'barricades', 'human shields', 'they gave the starting gun shot', 'they had an arsenal', 'expressions of hate', 'siege', 'devastation'," he listed expressions used by prosecutors.

"That's what the prosecution is saying: bias and exaggeration, and that takes away their credibility."

While dismissing the charge of rebellion, Van den Eynde said at most there may have been an offence of disobedience, which in serious cases incurs a fine and a three-year ban from public office, but no jail time.

The lawyer, also defending Raul Romeva who was in charge of foreign affairs for Catalonia at the time, recalled how police charged activists and voters on October 1, 2017 , as they tried to stop a banned independence referendum from going ahead.

He recognised that some protesters confronted the police, but only in a handful of cases.

Van den Eynde argued that three isolated cases were officially recorded, but were "disconnected" from the 12 accused, who "reject violence in any form."

In his conclusion, Van den Eynde said the trial could be used to help overcome the secession crisis in Catalonia.

"We're here, with our hand outstretched, to solve this conflict, and that's what I think this sentence should be."

Story highlights

Andreu Van den Eynde spoke on what is scheduled to be the penultimate day in the four-month Supreme Court trial of Junqueras and 11 others over a failed attempt to prise Catalonia from Spain in October 2017.