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The most serious charge facing the Catalan pro-independence leaders on trial in Madrid is rebellion, which in Spanish law requires a "violent uprising". This week has seen a series of Civil Guard agents involved in operations during the key days in 2017 testify in the Supreme Court.

Today, for example, appeared one of those who went to a school at Sant Andreu de la Barca on the day of the referendum. Inside the building, he said, they faced an "impassable [human] wall" of people sitting on the ground, holding arms. "They were recording us and one said: 'Everyone quiet, don't say anything'," he narrated. He said there were some 300 people blocking the voting area.

"When we reached the voting point, we didn't find ballot boxes. We only found envelopes and voting slips", he explained in a dramatic narrative he delivered in almost one go, with little need for prosecutors to ask any questions. "It's stayed with me how they looked at me", he continued, emotion creeping into his voice, "I don't know if it was through disdain or hatred, but no one had ever spat at me for doing my job".

Later, questioned by defence lawyer Jordi Pina, he confirmed that he was never physically attempted, only insulted and spat at, and that they were able to enter and leave with the materials they seized without any problems, without anyone trying take anything.

Yesterday, the most serious accusation against voters that day was that they were sitting on the floor, holding arms to block agents. Today, almost all the witnesses used the phrase "faces of hate" and the violence was limited to insults, spitting and thrown carnations.

Another of the agents who testified today had been involved in the operations in Sant Joan de Vilatorrada. According to him, the Mossos (Catalan police) were spying on them: "At 6am at Bufalvent industrial park, we were identified by a group of Mossos and on the route there are people in strategically parked vehicles". As for their own actions, he said that that day he "didn't see agents of the Civil Guard attacking those gathered there".