El Nacional's English-language resources for the Catalan independence trial are: our guide to the trial procedure; who's who of defendants, lawyers and judges; who's who of witnesses; frequently asked questions on issues behind the trial; chronology of trial-related events since Sept 2017; also note the El Nacional Youtube channel, where all our videos of trial coverage (in Spanish) can be found and our live minute-by-minute coverage in Catalan/Spanish when the court is in session. And below, in our day-by-day coverage notes, you'll find links to all our trial-related articles in English.
LATEST FROM THE COURT:
Our latest daily English-language coverage of the trial now continues here.
Here's our coverage diary from DAYS 1-24 (weeks 1-7).
Day 24: Thursday 28th March
The Supreme Court sessions for the week concluded with further police witnesses (mostly low-ranking Civil Guard officers, but some members of the Mossos d'Esquadra as well).
DAY 23: Wednesday 27th March
Two international witnesses, present for the 1st October 2017 referendum, appeared: former German politician Bernhard von Grünberg gave testimony in the morning, followed by one of the leaders of the international electoral researchers group, Helena Catt, of New Zealand.
DAY 22: Tuesday 26th March
Testimony on day 22 of the trial by Civil Guard lieutenant colonel Daniel Baena, head of the force's judicial unit in Catalonia and as such author of police reports on which many of the charges in the trial are based, and also known as the person behind a notorious anti-independence Twitter profile, 'Tácito' - although he denied this in court. Our story on his testimony here. Also, the court's refusal to allow witnesses to be challenged during cross-examination by showing videos may contradict rulings of the European Human Rights Court.
DAY 21: Monday 25th March
Two Civil Guard officers appeared giving testimony mostly in relation to the judicial search of the Catalan economy ministry and the protest outside, on September 20th 2017. Among the revelations of some intense cross-examination was the fact that one of these officers, agent B35974S, himself broke two of the car windows on the notoriously damaged Civil Guard vehicles. Another procedural development of the day was judge Marchena's decision to restrict interaction between members of the public and the prisoners, which had been possible up till now at the moments of adjournment. Meanwhile, the international observers at the trial announced that a report of their final conclusions will be delivered to the UN's periodical human rights review.
COURT RECESS between Weeks 6 and 7
Is this when the witness schedule becomes the news story in itself? In the middle of a list of anonymous Civil Guard officers, identified only by their numbers and unlikely to appear on camera, there appears a police officer identified by name - a female member of the Mossos d'Esquadra. Why the different criteria? An issue, labelled by some as very serious, which will be present in this week's Supreme Court sessions - that group of witnesses are due to testify on Thursday.
Several more senior members of the Civil Guard will be testifying on Monday and Tuesday, among them lieutenant colonel Daniel Baena, head of the force's judicial unit in Catalonia and as such author of police reports on which many of the charges in the trial are based. He is also known as the person behind a notorious anti-independence Twitter profile, 'Tácito'. Wednesday 27th will see a break from police witnesses, with the appearances of Paul Sinning (director, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies), Helena Catt (spokesperson for the international electoral experts present for the 1st October 2017 referendum), and in theory at least, two video conference testimonies as well, from former German MP Bernhard von Grünberg and Québécoise politician Manon Massé, who were present for the referendum.
Over the weekend, lawyer Jaume Alonso Cuevillas has voiced his firm view that the defendants will be found guilty not of rebellion, but of conspiracy to rebellion.
DAY 20: Thursday 20th March
The sessions of Thursday 21st March brought to an end the week with the least media fireworks of any phase in the court proceeedings so far, being dominated by the testimonies of Civil Guard officers who took part in the events of October 2017. Accounts of "faces of hate" and other policing unpleasantries, mixed with lighter aspects such as protesters throwing flowers - but, as our article points out, the "violent uprising" of a rebellion remains absent.
DAY 19: Wednesday 20th March
Second day of testimonies by Civil Guard police officers, describing their "Catalonia experiences" from late 2017: efforts to confiscate referendum material in advance, searches of Catalan government offices and officials, behaviour at protests, the referendum itself, and the subsequent activities they were engaged in such as analysing mails or compiling "highlights" videos. Names were dropped: there was a Pep Guardiola, there was also a Marta Rovira, although which Marta Rovira was not altogether clear. El Nacional also spoke to defendant Jordi Sànchez about how he sees the evolution of this trial at which he faces a possible sentence of 17 years jail.
DAY 18: Tuesday 19th March
The day's witness schedule consisted of Civil Guard officers, although there was a surprising exception: the first witness, Felipe Martínez, under-secretary in the Spanish treasury in 2017. Then, four officers of the seven who had been programmed were heard: the questioning of Agent K47019K in the morning set the pattern for the day, of police witnesses talking about a wide range of dates and specific actions in relation to the 2017 events, and therefore taking more time than expected. During the day there were defence complaints about this expansion of their areas of testimony, along with legal protests about the inability (due to the judge's ruling) to confront witnesses by showing them videos revealing the contradictions in their declarations. In particular, Agent P35979V spoke of a "tumult" outside the Catalan foreign ministry on September 20th, 2017, with protesters "making death threats" and the Mossos d'Esquadra remaining passive: here’s the video contradicting that description which the judge didn’t allow to be shown to the witness.
The weekly report from the international observers present at the trial once again finds fault with various aspects of the court proceedings.
COURT RECESS between Weeks 5 and 6
Another Tuesday start this week for the Supreme Court, with a schedule of witnesses for the week which consists exclusively (for the moment, at least) of ordinary Civil Guard officers, identified in the court documents by their police numbers and not their names.
Beyond the court, the major weekend focus was clearly the first-ever large Catalan independence protest in Madrid, which left its moments of spectacle, and was commented on by media from Bloomberg to Al Jazeera, as well as by José Antich in his editorials A lesson in dignity and The demonstration stings. Here also is Gonzalo Boye's reflection on the trial as part of the wake-up call for Spanish justice to the legal reality of Europe.
DAY 17: Thursday 14th March
The final sessions for the fifth week of the Supreme Court trial were, as expected, dominated by the appearance of Mossos police chief Josep Lluís Trapero. His testimony turned out to be thoroughly transcendent: in legal, political and human terms. To start with the last of these, Trapero swiftly reaffirmed his professionalism, integrity, and honesty. And yet precisely because of these qualities, the legal and political value of his testimony was not all one-sided, but as complex as the issue itself. Two accounts: Gemma Liñán's chronicle starts with Trapero's statement that he was ready to arrest Carles Puigdemont; while Marta Lasalas focuses on the high drama of the day's concluding moments. And also José Antich's view: Trapero, nothing to reprehend.
Also on the stand on Thursday was senior Catalan government administrative official Teresa Prohias - answering questions related to the misuse of public funds charges.
DAY 16: Wednesday 13th March
An extremely truncated session on Wednesday, already concluded before lunch, with only two witnesses appearing: former Catalan government official responsible for institutional information, Jaume Mestre; and former head of the Catalan foreign-projection partnership Diplocat, Albert Royo. One of the key moments on a short day was when, in response to witness Jaume Mestre's inability to remember events or elements, the prosecutor raised the possibility of a false testimony, prompting judge Marchena to remind Mestre of his obligations to tell the truth - the first time he has taken such a step in the trial, leading to claims of double standards, given that several major Spanish political witnesses have shown similar "forgetfulness".
The appearance of two referendum-day "international observers", Paul Sinning and Helena Catt, was postponed.
DAY 15: Tuesday 12th March
Perhaps the brightest spotlight in the court on Tuesday was the one that shone onto the panel of judges: specifically, Luciano Varela and Ana María Ferrer, also members of the Spanish Electoral Board, which has just ruled that, due to the upcoming Spanish elections, Catalan government buildings must remove the yellow ribbons displayed on them. Given that the ribbons show solidarity with exiled and jailed Catalan leaders (many of whom are the defendants in this very case), is it proper for these judges to wear two hats? Also, José Antich's editorial focuses on what this Supreme Court case has in common with another lower-profile trial being heard nearby: the case of the alleged money-laundering of former Barcelona football club president Sandro Rosell.
As for Tuesday's court sessions, they were short. In the morning, one witness, Rosa Maria Sans, from the Artiplan printing firm, was dispatched quickly and another, Oriol Gonzàlez from the mail distributor Buzoneo, decided not to testify as he, like others, is himself charged in relation to the referendum issue in a separate case. In the afternoon, two further witnesses were called related to the charges of misuse of funds. Questioning graphic designer Enric Vidal about his work in managing referendum-related printing assignments, the prosecutor endeavoured to link Vidal's phone contact in this work, "a guy called Tony" with Catalan government official Antoni Molons.
DAY 14: Monday 11th March
The observer group International Trial Watch has spoken out again on the trial, saying that the rulings against showing videos to witnesses may "trivialise police violence”. In Monday’s court session, Mossos d’Esquadra information commissioner Manuel Castellví completed his testimony, clarifying that those who held activities at Catalan schools on the days before the referendum were ordinary local citizens and the radical groups he had previously mentioned as a potential threat “did not form.” Castellví’s testimony, along with that of Mossos planning head Emili Quevedo who appeared afterwards, refuted the idea that the Catalan government had attempted to influence the Mossos’ approach to policing the referendum. Quevedo also stressed that the Mossos had deployed 7,800 officers on referendum day, far more than the 3,000 police who would be on duty for a normal election.
Monday afternoon was taken up by three witnesses from the Unipost postal firm, questioned by the prosecution in a seemingly fruitless attempt to prove Catalan government spending on the referendum, to support the charge of misuse of public funds.
COURT RECESS between Weeks 4 and 5
Is this the week of Josep Lluís Trapero? The former Mossos d'Esquadra police chief is scheduled to appear as a witness, but neither is that certain (as he faces rebellion charges in a separate case and is therefore not obliged to testify), nor is its hypothetical timing on Thursday afternoon reliable. The complex witness schedule before that includes other senior Mossos (such as commissioner Emili Quevedo, on Monday morning); management of the Unipost private postal firm and the printer Artyplan; and more senior Catalan and Spanish civil servants, among others.
Observers of the trial continue to voice concerns about procedural aspects, while former Supreme Court judge Martín Pallín believes the verdict can already be drafted, as he told El Nacional in an exclusive interview. An article in The New York Times has declared that "the trial is an error". Meanwhile it's been announced in recent days that many of the Catalan politicians on trial (Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and others) will be standing as candidates in the different elections (municipal, Spanish, and European) in April and May, at the same time as Carles Puigdemont, the great figure absent from this trial, is also to run for the European Parliament.
DAY 13: Thursday 7th March
Witness appearances from three top cops: first, Sebastián Trapote, head of Spain's National Police in Catalonia at the time of the referendum; then, Àngel Gozalo, in charge of the Civil Guard in Catalonia in 2017; and the first part of the declaration from Manuel Castellví, former Information Commissioner for Catalonia's Mossos d'Esquadra police. Trapote and Gozalo coincided in accusing the Mossos d'Esquadra of inaction on October 1st, and Castellví's hesitant, nervous manner did not help his rebuttal of this - although his defence cross-examination is still to come next week. Ironically, the person who seemed most on trial at Thursday's session - former Mossos chief Josep Lluís Trapero - is not one of the accused in this case, but rather faces rebellion charges in a separate, subsequent trial.
DAY 12: Wednesday 6th March
The long declaration of Civil Guard colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos concluded with defence lawyers suggesting he may have given a false testimony. The security coordinator's appearance was followed by that of court clerk Montserrat del Toro who grabbed the headlines in Spanish media with her dramatic account of the fear she experienced on September 20th 2017 at the Catalan economy ministry.
DAY 11: Tuesday 5th March
There was trial related news outside the court, with the report that the Mariano Rajoy government destroyed documentation on the referendum when it left office in mid-2018, and our story of how the independence movement’s ambitious plan for a major protest in Madrid on March 16th is taking shape (also the subject of a José Antich editorial). Meanwhile, the Supreme Court heard from former Spanish government delegate in Catalonia Enric Millo as major witness in the morning and then after lunch the first part of the testimony from referendum police operation coordinator Diego Pérez de los Cobos (see our Wednesday story). And political scientist Carles Boix gave a theoretical reflection in his article Democracy vs the Constitution.
DAY 10: Monday 4th March
The tight witness schedule for the week immediately went by the board with the four hour testimony from Spanish secretary for security José Antonio Nieto, followed in the afternoon by appearances from figures related to the Catalan Parliament, including current speaker Roger Torrent. Nieto’s declaration was also the subject of scathing criticism in José Antich’s editorial.
COURT RECESS between Weeks 3 and 4
With a Monday 10am start instead of a first session on Tuesday, the court will try to up its pace of hearing witnesses this week, beginning with a key figure in Spain's 2017 police operation in Catalonia: the junior minister for Security in 2017, José Antonio Nieto. Others to give testimony on Monday will include former Spanish government delegate in Catalonia Enric Millo, speaker of the Catalan Parliament Roger Torrent and former Catalan government vice president Neus Munté. Here's the full witness calendar for the week.
Check out our interview with international observer Jelle Klaas, present at the Supreme Court last week. Over the weekend there's also been official comment on the trial from the organization which Klaas is part of: the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists. José Antich has focused on defence lawyer Xavier Melero as well as on the response of the Spanish media to events in court; lawyer Gonzalo Boye warns of the poisoned chalice of hearing irregularities, Barça's Gerard Piqué has spoken out - twice - about the trial and so have a few of the 109,000 people who attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
DAY 9: Thursday 28th February
Second day of witnesses in the Supreme Court trial. Three in particular were important: lehendakari (Basque president), Iñigo Urkullu, who shed light on secret negotiations between Catalan and Spanish leaders during 2017; Barcelona mayor Ada Colau with comments on the civic character of pro-independence protests; and former Spanish interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido, whose declaration was perhaps most notable for his use of the phrase “I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, defendants Cuixart and Sànchez have had some ‘bad’ news from the Constitutional Court which is actually good: the rejection of an appeal which means they can now take their case to Strasbourg.
And there's been another significant reaction to the case from observers: a group of MEPs attending the trial have described it as "unacceptable" and a "political trial".
The case continues on Monday morning.
DAY 8: Wednesday 27th February
Witness testimony started today, and tensely, with Congress deputy Joan Tardà (ERC) describing the trial as an "act of revenge" and trying to reply in Catalan, which the court said he didn't have the right to do as he also speaks Spanish. The most anticipated testimony, however, was from former prime minister Mariano Rajoy (who risks having invalidated his testimony) and his deputy Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría. José Antich reviewed what they had to say: Finally! Now we know why they didn't find the referendum ballot boxes.
The tension peaked, however, when former CUP deputies Antonio Baños and Eulàlia Reguant refused to reply to questions from "xenophobic, sexist" political party Vox, the private prosecution in the case, an act which they believe would "legitimise the far right". They have been fined 2,500€ each (£2,100; $2,800) and have 5 days to "reconsider" or they could face criminal charges.
DAY 7: Tuesday 26th February
The second phase of the trial, the questioning of the defendants, finished with testimony from civil society leader Jordi Cuixart and former speaker of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell. By the end, it seemed as though public prosecutors had given up on proving the charge of rebellion in this phase, one of the factors José Antich looked at in his editorial An insuperable disgrace.
COURT RECESS between Weeks 2 and 3
After two weeks of courtroom sessions, the strength of the cases and the general conduct of the trial are starting to become clearer: José Antich has made a preliminary analysis of how things are going while lawyer Gonzalo Boye examines procedural aspects and finds some significant failings. Some foreign journalists have quietly noted that the prosecution case looks weak and even football coach Pep Guardiola has commented on the trial.
The final two defendants to testify, Òmnium leader Jordi Cuixart and ex-parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell take the stand on Tuesday 26th starting at 9:30am. After that, the trial moves into its third phase (there are seven in total) with the calling of witnesses – and in another controversial move, political figures are to be heard first because of the upcoming Spanish elections. Mariano Rajoy, Artur Mas and Ada Colau are among the witnesses scheduled for this Wednesday and Thursday.
DAY 6: Thursday 21st February
After yesterday, the court only managed to get through two defendants today with one of the shortest and then the longest testimony so far. First was Santi Vila, who resigned the day before the declaration of independence in 2017. Second was civil society leader Jordi Sànchez and a heavy focus on the charge of rebellion and the violence needed to justify it. While proceedings continued in Madrid, Catalans once again protested against the trial during a one-day general strike, as world media reported.
Hearings are now adjourned for the weekend. That means the first witnesses are already falling back in time, as first on Tuesday will come the highly-anticipated testimony from Jordi Cuixart and Carme Forcadell. To catch up with their schedule, the judges will turn to the option they had left themselves of going in on Friday too.
DAY 5: Wednesday 20th February
A long day in court eventually finished almost twelve hours after it started. With the first witnesses called for next week, they needed to get through the defendants of more defendants. In the end they managed four defendants: Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Meritxell Borràs and Carles Mundó. And we found ourselves at El Nacional being quoted by prosecutors. José Antich looked at the Royal interference.
DAY 4: Tuesday 19th February
Two different strategies from today's defendants. Raül Romeva, like Oriol Junqueras last week, only responded to questions from his defence counsel and took a more political stance; Jordi Turull did respond to the public prosecutors and state's solicitor and went on the attack. Indeed, the latter ended up having to act as translator for a prosecutor... And José Antich asked if and when they're planning to prove the charge of rebellion.
There was also news from the court today as to what we can expect next week: the judges summonsed the first witnesses, which means they want to get through the rest of the defendants' testimony this week. That will require them to pick up the pace from the current two-a-day. Next Tuesday, the judges want to hear from former Catalan president Artur Mas and former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy. The latter will be followed on Wednesday by his deputy and two of his senior ministers.
COURT RECESS between Weeks 1 and 2
Week two of the Catalan independence trial will see the continuation of the defendants’ testimonies. First up on Tuesday 19th at 10am when the trial resumes, the spotlight will be on former Catalan minister of the presidency Jordi Turull, followed by foreign minister Raül Romeva. The order of testifying for the rest of the defendants is: Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó, Santi Vila, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, and Carme Forcadell. In preparation, El Nacional’s Gemma Liñán has analysed the role of one of the other key players in the case - presiding judge Manuel Marchena.
The weekend saw a number of protest actions against the trial: in particular, Barcelona’s huge “Self-determination is not a crime” march with over 200,000 people taking part. There were also a number of smaller protests across Europe and even in Mexico, organised by pro-independence group the ANC.
DAY 3: Thursday 14th February
The last day of hearings for the first week of the trial was the first day of questioning of the defendants. Vice-president Oriol Junqueras only responded to questions from his own lawyer in his hard-hitting, political defence. Interior minister Quim Forn took a different tack; José Antich looked at the differences in his editorial Tremor in the Spains.
Out of the court, the head of Global Spain used a controversial metaphor in an interview with Sky News. The trial is now adjourned until Tuesday 19th.
DAY 2: Wednesday 13th February
A much shorter day as the various prosecutions gave their preliminary questions. The international profile of the case became clear, with comments in the House of Commons, an editorial in The Independent ("worse than an outrage") and a country "repeatedly" expressing its concern to Spain. José Antich reacted to a comment by the public prosecutor in his editorial Human walls.
DAY 1: Tuesday 12th February
The trial finally got underway with a long day of preliminary questions. The various defence lawyers asked for extra witnesses and evidence to be accepted by the court, their speeches suggesting a strategy focused on a staunch defence of human rights. There were also legal questions raised, for example why Carme Forcadell is being tried a different court to the members of the Parliament's Board over the same events. The first photos emerged from within the court, the first public images of many of the defendants for months.
Minister Jordi Turull, one of the defendants, described the build up to the start this morning for El Nacional. José Antich gave a preview the day before in his editorial Democracy on trial, Catalonia on trial, then reviewed the day in The state is naked.