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Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras has again appeared before Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena in a hearing to formally inform him of the charges he will be tried over. In the 40-minute hearing, he denied the charges and defended political dialogue and peoples' right to self-determination.

Junqueras criticised the judge, arguing that the trial aims to end the pro-independence political movement and cut back his political rights and the rights of those who voted for him. For the first time in the process, Carles Puigdemont's Spanish lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, was in attendance.

The vice-president didn't back down before Llarena, saying instead that "defending independence and promoting it is fully legal. Catalonia has the right to self-determination", legal sources told El Nacional.

"We're facing a political conflict which has to be solved by politics and never judicialised, much less criminalised", Junqueras told the judge in testimony which can have no further negative consequences for him, as he comes up to 6 months in prison.

Oriol Junqueras defended the dialogue the Catalan government has tried to promote on numerous occasions to reach a political agreement with Spain over how to exercise its right to self-determination, proposals the Spanish government has never accepted.

He denied that holding a referendum can be a crime, saying that it never could be in a democracy.

Without violence

Junqueras has against denied behaving violently. "I believe in human dignity, in pacifism and coexistence."

The vice-president remarked that no violent act with political aims has been promoted, tolerated or accepted. "We're independence supporters, but before independence supporters we're democrats and militants for no-violence." He also condemned and described as "unacceptable" and disproportionate the police violence on the day of the referendum: "a mass popular vote cannot be repressed by force".

Junqueras, who was also the Catalan economy minister, similarly denied the accusations of misuse of public funds relating to the referendum and confirmed that not one cent of the budget items voided by the Constitutional Court was spent.

Violated rights to defence

For the first time, Junqueras was able to prepare his court appearance in a meeting with his lawyer without glass between them. Estremera prison authorised them to meet in a room, so Andreu van den Eynde could prepare Junqueras's and Raül Romeva's testimony in normal conditions.

Junqueras, in fact, went as far as denying the authority of the Supreme Court to investigate the events, denouncing there being a parallel investigation in Barcelona's court of investigation 13, that his rights are being violated and that his pretrial detention means he cannot work on his defence well.

"My prosecution violates the principle of legality, since I haven't carried out any act which can be interpreted as constituting the crimes listed in the order", namely rebellion and misuse of public funds.

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