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Ahead of the trial of the Catalan independence movement, Spanish king Felipe VI has reiterated his unconditional support for the judiciary. During the ceremony to present the 68th class of judges with their offices, held in Madrid this Tuesday, the monarch said that Spanish courts enjoy "full legitimacy" and insisted that they are "independent and neutral".

During his closing speech, the monarch emphasised the independence and neutrality of the Spanish judiciary, describing them as values which have to govern the professional life of the new judges. "Our judiciary enjoys full legitimacy," he said. He didn't refer explicitly to the Catalan situation, but said that "a moment like this has to serve to reassert our commitment to the judicial institution".

He emphasised the importance of it remaining "independent and fully separate from the other powers", as well as how essential "respect for legal decisions" is. He said that this is an "essential condition in any democracy".

At the same time, in the middle of negotiations between PP, Ciudadanos and far-right Vox in Andalusia, the monarch noted that the Constitution "protects but limits" political power.

Like on Sunday, during the annual Pascua Militar parade, the king gave a fierce defence of the Spanish Constitution the month after its 40th anniversary. He said it's the values of that text that the new judges have to defend because they've brought "40 years of peaceful social harmony" and a model of state "fully comparable to the most advanced countries". "The Constitution assures us a solid stage of freedoms," he insisted.

Today's ceremony was marked by the fact it was being held in Madrid, after more than twenty years in Barcelona, where the Judicial School is located. The reason for this, according to sources from the General Council of the Judiciary, is the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Constitution and the 25th anniversary of the law which gave the council the responsibility for training judges. The ceremony was held at the Royal Spanish Academy, the official Spanish language academy.

Carlos Lesmes, president of the council and and the Supreme Court, also spoke during the ceremony. He called on the new judges to defend the "inalienable character of the rule of law".