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This is part of El Nacional's complete primer on the Catalan independence trial. See also our FAQ, who's who of defendants, lawyers and judgeswho's who of witnesses and guide to what to expect now.

It's already been a long and winding road through the Spanish justice system for the defendants in the Catalan independence trial - a legal and political event of potentially huge significance for the future of Catalonia, Spain and Europe.

Even before the start of the trial proper, the case has been marked by frequent dramatic events and reversals: from the independence referendum itself on October 1st, 2017, to politicians being sent to prison and others journeying into exile abroad; from collisions between judicial and political powers - as in the attempts to form a Catalan government with jailed leaders - to collisions between Spanish justice and international courts. And these are by no means the only elements that have shaped this complex case.

This timeline, with links to El Nacional's English-language news stories, runs through the key dates and events leading up to the Spanish Supreme Court trial of the 12 pro-independence Catalan civil and political leaders, beginning with the passing of the key law which set the events of late 2017 in motion. 


September 6th 

The Catalan Parliament passes the Referendum Law, with the support of its pro-independence majority, JxSí and the CUP. The parties opposed to independence (Ciudadanos, PSC and PP) absent themselves from the vote. 

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his ministers sign the decree to officially call the referendum on independence from Spain, set for October 1st.

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September 7th

Spain's Constitutional Court (CC) provisionally suspends the calling of the referendum.

The Catalan Parliament, with the vehement opposition of the unionist parties, passes the Law of Transitional Jurisprudence. The Electoral Commision of Catalonia is created to watch over the referendum's management and fairness.

September 12th

The CC provisionally suspends the Law of Transitional Jurisprudence.

September 17th

The CC annuls the Referendum Law in a ruling in which it rejects the assertion that Catalonia has the right to self-determination.

September 20th

The Civil Guard takes fourteen referendum organizers into custody, including a dozen senior Catalan government officials, and carries out searches of the Catalan economy, foreign affairs, labour and presidency ministries.

20S Conselleria Economia - Sergi Alcazar

A demonstration takes place outside the Catalan economy ministry, while the judicially-authorised officials are conducting their searches inside the building.

The Constitutional Court annuls accords passed by the Catalan Parliament's presiding Board which allowed the referendum to be called.

September 27th

Spanish justice orders the closing-off of premises designated to be referendum polling stations.

October 1st

The Catalan independence referendum is held. Spanish National Police and Civil Guard officers take action while Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra forces play a passive role. Widespread police baton charges take place. The Catalan government declares 90% of voters have voted "yes" to independence.

referendum monarquia universitat sergi alcazar (12)

October 3rd

Spanish king Felipe VI makes a televised speech. In the face of the "extremely grave" situation being experienced in Catalonia, he calls for the constitutional order to be upheld, and the "rule of law and the self-government of Catalonia" to be guaranteed.

Via Laietana 3-O vaga general - Sergi Alcàzar

A one-day general strike takes place in Catalonia in protest against the police repression during the referendum.

October 16th

Pro-independence activists Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural respectively, are sent into pretrial detention without bail by judge Carmen Lamela of Spain's National Audience court for allegedly encouraging the blockade of the Catalan economy ministry during the search on September 20th.

Sánchez i Cuixart Audiència Nacional / EFE

October 27th

The Catalan Parliament, with the opposition parties absent, declares the independence of Catalonia.

The Spanish Senate votes to apply article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, suspending Catalonia's self-government and, under its assumed powers, Mariano Rajoy's Spanish government immediately dismisses Catalan president Puigdemont and his government.

October 29th

Carles Puigdemont arrives in Brussels along with his ministers Antoni Comín, Clara Ponsatí, Lluis Puig and Meritxell Serret. They are also accompanied by Dolors Bassa and Joaquim Forn, but these two subsequently return to Catalonia to later declare before the National Audience court in Madrid.

October 30th

Spain's public prosecutor charges Puigdemont and his 13 ministers with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds in the National Audience, while in the Supreme Court charges are presented against the Catalan Parliament's speaker Carme Forcadell and five members of the Parliament's Board who were in charge of the vote to declare independence.

The Constitutional Court suspends Catalonia's declaration of independence.

November 2nd

Judge Lamela orders detention without bail for sacked Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras and seven other government ministers (Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Meritxell Borràs, Raül Romeva, Carles Mundó, Dolors Bassa and Joaquim Forn). Santi Vila, who resigned from the Catalan government shortly before independence was declared, is released on bail of 50,000 euros (£44,000, $58,000).

Els consellers arriben Audiència Nacional / ACN

November 3rd

Judge Lamela issues European Arrest Warrants for president Puigdemont and the four Catalan ministers who are also in Belgium.

Santi Vila leaves prison after posting his bail.

November 8th

The Constitutional Court definitively annuls Catalonia's unilateral declaration of independence and the Law of Transitional Jurisprudence.

November 9th

Speaker Carme Forcadell is granted bail of 150,000 euros (£133,000, $175,000) by Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, but goes to prison until she can post it. Bail is also set for her colleagues on the Parliament's Board, but at lower amounts.

forcadell suprem madrid efe

November 10th

Forcadell leaves prison after posting the bail sum.

November 24th

Judge Llarena of the Supreme Court unifies three of the Catalan independence cases by taking over those against the members of the Catalan government and the civil society leaders Cuixart and Sànchez, which up until this point were being handled by the National Audience.

December 4th

Catalan ministers Romeva, Mundó, Rull and Turull leave jail after they are granted bail.

Estremera esperant sortida presos   Júlia Farré

December 5th

The Spanish Supreme Court withdraws the European Arrest Warrants for the exiled Catalan leaders in Belgium.


February 17th

Anna Gabriel, former spokesperson for the CUP party in the Catalan Parliament, fails to appear before the Supreme Court where she is under investigation. It then transpires that she has gone into exile in Switzerland.

February 19th

Marta Rovira, secretary general of the ERC party, is released after appearing before Judge Llarena but is required to enter bail of 60,000 euros (£53,000, $74,000). 

March 23th

Judge Llarena sends parliamentary deputy Jordi Turull to prison a day before he is due to appear in the Catalan Parliament as a candidate for the presidency. At the same time, Forcadell, Romeva, Rull and Bassa are all ordered back to pretrial detention too.

The court formally prosecutes 25 pro-independence Catalan figures, 13 of these on charges of rebellion. Three people under investigation are told they face no charges: former Catalan president Artur Mas, former head of the PDeCAT party Marta Pascal and former president of the Association of Municipalities for Independence, Neus Lloveras.

Marta Rovira goes into exile in Switzerland and judge Llarena issues European and international arrest warrants against her, as well as a second warrant against Puigdemont and the rest of the politicians in exile.

March 25th

German police stop Puigdemont and take him into custody when he enters the country by car from Denmark, heading to Belgium. The former Catalan president enters the prison of Neumünster.

furgo Puigdemont alemanya Efe

April 5th

A German court rejects the charge of rebellion against Puigdemont.

April 6th

Puigdemont leaves prison.

May 16th

A Belgian court rejects the extradition of the three Catalan ministers exiled in the country (Comín, Serret and Puig) on the basis of technical errors in Spain's application.

June 27th

Spain's Supreme Court confirms that the rebellion case will continue against the Catalan pro-independence leadership.

July 10th

Judge Llarena concludes the investigation phase of the case  and declares those of the accused abroad to be in rebellion, opening a separate part of the case for them. Puigdemont, Junqueras and four other jailed Catalan deputies are declared to be suspended from public office.

July 11th

The transfer of the jailed pro-independence leaders to Catalan jails begins, with the arrival from Madrid of Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn at Lledoners prison.


July 12th

The regional court of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany decides to extradite Puigdemont only for misuse of funds and not for rebellion, which would mean he could only stand trial in Spain on that charge.

July 19th

Llarena rejects Puigdemont's extradition to Spain on the basis that the German court has granted it, and withdraws all the European Arrest Warrants that had been issued for the exiled Catalan leaders.

October 25th

The Supreme Court opens the process for the trial of the accused Catalan politicians and civil leaders. There are 18 people included in the case at this point.

November 2nd

The Spanish public prosecutor presents indictment documents to the Supreme Court for the 18 pro-independence leaders, demanding 25 years in jail for Oriol Junqueras, and 17 years for Carme Forcadell, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. Meanwhile, the state's solicitor general opts at the last minute to convert its central accusation into a charge of sedition, requesting sentences of up to 12 years in jail in the case of Junqueras.

December 1st

Four of the accused in the case start a hunger strike in prison in protest at the slow processing of the appeals they had lodged to the Constitutional Court. After Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull's initial announcement, they are joined in the hunger strike by Quim Forn and Josep Rull.

December 5th

For the second time, the Supreme Court's chamber 61 refuses a request for the court's judges to be removed from the trial.

December 18th

The Supreme Court opens a hearing for preliminary questions in the case.

December 20th

Sànchez, Turull, Forn and Rull end their hunger strike in prison.

December 27th

The Supreme Court confirms its jurisdiction to judge the case, but splits off a section which it sends to the Catalan High Court: the disobedience charges against against five former members of the Catalan Parliament's Board and ex-deputy for the CUP Mireia Boya. The major case is thus reduced to 12 defendants: the nine currently in prison, as well as three other former Catalan ministers (Carles Mundó, Meritxell Borràs and Santi Vila).


February 1st

The Supreme Court issues a ruling accepting hundreds of witnesses at the trial, including former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy; the court refuses to reserve space for international observers.

The nine prisoners return to Madrid in cells in a Guardia Civil bus. Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart are taken to Soto del Real prison; Dolors Bassa and Carme Forcadell to Alcalá Meco.

judici proces trasllat presos centre brians Sergi Alcàzar
It is announced that the trial of the 12 Catalan independence leaders will begin on February 12th.