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He's to head JxCat's candidacy for Congress in this April's snap Spanish general election; he's also one of the Catalan pro-independence leaders on trial for charges including rebellion in Spain's Supreme Court. After a short conversation during a court recess, when the defendants can briefly talk with the members of the public in the room, Jordi Sànchez (Barcelona, 1964) agreed to this interview with El Nacional. The following is based on his handwritten responses to a list of questions.

The trial has been going on for five weeks now. How do you see things from the dock?
It's still time for the prosecution to provide a witness who accuses us of agreeing between organisations and the government to perpetrate a rebellion or sedition and for there to appear evidence which demonstrates civil violence. The only thing we've heard has been stories, words, without evidence. No incriminating fact. The public prosecution remains wedded to a narrative but the supporting evidence for violence and rebellion or sedition hasn't appeared.

Is it how you expected? Or is any of the parties not acting how you expected?
Yes, it's how I expected. In some interviews before being moved [from pretrial detention in Catalonia to Madrid for trial] I already said that all the pressure would be on the public prosecution.

The public prosecution remains wedded to a narrative but the supporting evidence for violence and rebellion or sedition hasn't appeared

How do you assess the role of presiding judge Manuel Marchena?
That of a judge who feels under watch by the European Court of Human Rights and by dozens of international observers. Some say, however, that he's an iron fist in a silk glove.

There's been much discussion about the warning Marchena gave during the questioning of a senior Catalan government official about fake testimony after not doing so in other cases, like former Spanish interior minister Zoido, who gave testimony with many gaps...
Certainly, that could be interpreted as an intimidatory warning which other witnesses didn't receive. Beyond this incident there are facts as or more serious like having started the trial without having copies of all the evidence admitted or the fact of not allowing the comparison or contradiction of the statements of the public prosecution's witnesses through the showing of videos. And we could add a final action like the question asked of police major Trapero once the defence had ended their turn. Here Marchena acted more as a prosecutor (his origins) than as president of a court. We'll have to see what the European Court of Human Rights says of all these elements.

They're having a hard time not making fools of themselves

And the prosecution? What do you think of their performance?
They're having a hard time not making fools of themselves. Very often they don't even find their papers, they confuse basic details. They're a victim of their own narrative. But I see them as too proud, incapable of course correction.

Are you surprised by the role being taken on by far-right party Vox (the private prosecution)?
A little. I often think that they don't ask much because not even they believe all that about rebellion and sedition.

Which testimony had the biggest effect on you?
Pushed to choose one, for obvious reasons, I was surprised by the court clerk who attended the search of the economy ministry on 20th September. The majority of her testimony was to explain her mood and to explain things others had told her which she didn't see directly. The only things she narrated saying that she'd personally seen or heard turned out to be inexact or lacking veracity. What we would colloquially call false. It couldn't be shown they were false because the judge (incomprehensibly) doesn't allow the showing of videos to counter witnesses' stories. The time will come to do so.

Do you believe the absolution you call for is possible seeing how the trial is going?
If the court is just, I have no doubt about it. Absolution should be the only sentence possible as the trial is going now.

If the trial is just, and the sentence is too, I only see absolution being possible

Have you tackled what the response should be if in the end you are found guilty?
No. If the trial is just, and the sentence is too, I only see absolution being possible. I am focused on absolution and the daily construction of my defence. There are many weeks to go. And until the sentences, months.