MEPs attend trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders

A delegation of 13 MEPs and MPs from several EU Member States are in Madrid today to attend the trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders.

Pro-independence rally in Barcelona | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

28 Feb 2019

The delegation is composed of a group of MEPs from the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform.

They are: José Bove (Greens-EFA), Mark Demesmaeker (ECR), María Lidia Senra (GUE/NGL), Jordi Solé (Greens-EFA), Indrek Tarand (Greens-EFA), Josep-Maria Terricabras (Greens-EFA), Ramon Tremosa (ALDE), and Marie-Pierre Vieu (GUE/NGL).

They will be joined by MPs from the Parliamentary Network of Catalonia Friendship Groups, including: Magni Arge (Denmark), Pelle Dragsted (Denmark) and Peter Luykx (Flanders); the President of the Corsican Executive Council, Gilles Simeoni; and the French MP Paul Molac.


Spain’s Supreme Court originally rejected the presence of international observers in the courtroom during the trial against Catalan independence leaders, as requested by the defendants, who said they feared they would not face a fair trial.

However, the MEPs say that the trial is not only an internal Spanish affair, but “has a clear European dimension since it clashes with fundamental values of the EU such as democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to political participation.”

A spokesman for the Greens group said, “This is why they wanted to follow the trial closely, personally in Madrid.”

The trial entered a new stage on Wednesday after it concluded questioning of the 12 defendants on Tuesday.

Former Catalan deputy leader Oriol Junqueras, the most high-profile defendant in the trial, has said he is a political prisoner and insists his region has the right to secede from Spain.

"[The trial] has a clear European dimension since it clashes with fundamental values of the EU such as democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to political participation” EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform

Former Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy will appear in court on Wednesday as a witness, for the second time in less than two years, to give evidence in the trial.

Rajoy, who was kicked out of office last June in a no confidence motion by the Socialists, will be questioned about the circumstances surrounding a failed independence attempt by Catalonia in the autumn of 2017.

Rajoy is one of 500 witnesses in the trial against 12 former Catalan leaders, nine of whom have been jailed and charged with rebellion.

The former prime minister’s deputy, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, will also appear.

Meanwhile, the Spanish political party VOX has been invited to an event that will take place at the European Parliament next week.

In December, Vox became the first far-right party in Spain in more than four decades to score an electoral victory, in a local ballot in the region of Andalusia.

The movement draws a lot of support for its strong stance against independence for Spain’s regions.

The ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists), which has organised the event, argues that VOX should be allowed to explain the “reality” of the conflict.

The event will be presented by Kosma Zlotowski, treasurer of ECR in the European Parliament.

VOX will be represented by Javier Ortega Smith (Secretary General), Malena Contestí (Vice President of International Relations of VOX in the Balearic Islands) and Jorge Buxadé (VOX spokesperson in Catalonia).

Also participating will be the journalist Rosa Cuervas Mons, editor-in-chief of the communication group Intereconomía, and the historian Jesús Lainz.

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