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Trial of Spain's Catalan Separatists Comes to a Close

Fired Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, right, arrives at the national court in Madrid, Nov. 2, 2017.

The four-month long trial of 12 politicians and activists in northeastern Spain's Catalan region who led the failed 2017 independence bid from is coming to a close Wednesday.

Nine of the dozen defendants, including former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, are charged with rebellion, a serious offense that implies that violence was employed to disrupt Spain's constitutional order. Junqueras himself faces 25 years in prison if convicted. The other defendants are charged with disobedience and misusing public funds.

The nationally televised proceedings, which have been held in Spain's Supreme Court in Madrid, has gripped the nation every day since the trial opened in February.

The Catalan government declared itself independent after a secession referendum on October 1, 2017. The vote was held in defiance of Spain's constitutional court judges, who ruled the referendum illegal. Spanish police led a violent crackdown on Catalan citizens after the referendum, dissolving parliament and removing the region's Cabinet. The Spanish government has since arrested or charged 25 Catalan separatist leaders for instigating the rebellion.

Catalonia's former leader, Carles Puigdemont, who is living in self-imposed exile in Belgium, has said the trial is a stress test for Spain's judicial system and its democracy.