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A group of international lawyers, politicians and a Nobel Peace Prize winner have today discussed the Catalan independence trial in an event in Strasbourg organised by Òmnium to coincide with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

"By putting 12 people in prison for 18 months before the trial even begins, what is the state signalling to the people of Spain? 'They're guilty!'", said Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize laureate (emphasis in all quotes ours).

Having yesterday visited the court in Madrid to watch the day's hearings, she said: "The fact that the court is allowing 350 policemen to say the same thing over and over and over again; if I were one of the lawyers in the case I would have a gigantic headache".

Williams also complained that, whilst at the start of the trial the judges allowed video evidence to be compared with witness testimony, that's now been stopped.

At the same event, Olivier Peter, the international lawyer representing Òmnium's president Jordi Cuixart, said that 80% of Catalans want a referendum and support the release of the political prisoners: "We have to avoid normalising the presence of political prisoners in Europe, in a European capital, because if we normalise this situation in one country, tomorrow it could arrive elsewhere: in Berlin, in Vienna, in Paris or in Geneva".

Lawyer Rachel Lindon, a specialist in human rights, described the imprisonment of the pro-independence leaders as "arbitrary". She said that the arrests were ordered by a court without the necessary jurisdiction and for "nonexistent crimes", referring to the charges of rebellion.

Irish senator Paul Gavan (Sinn Féin), meanwhile, said that "There is a cloak of silence around this trial. We have to push through this wall of silence because what is happening here is truly, truly shocking. And if it happens in Catalonia, it can happen anywhere in Europe".

At the same event, member of the German Bundestag Andrej Hunko (Die Linke) said the issue is a human rights matter, justifying the meeting behind held alongside the Parliamentary Assembly. He also criticised the idea of a far-right party like Vox having a role in the trial.