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TWELVE people behind Catalunya´s illegal 2017 independence referendum have gone on trial in Madrid, facing charges including rebellion and sedition.

If convicted, some could face up to 25 years in prison.
After the unconstitutional vote in October 2017, the region declared its independence from Spain weeks later, with the national government then imposing direct rule until fresh regional elections were held.
Nine of the defendants have spent months in pre-trial detention, and arrived at the court on Tuesday morning under guard. The remaining three had been free on bail.

The most high-profile of the leaders on trial is the former Vice-President, Oriol Junqueras. His superior – former President of Catlunya, Carles Puigdemont – fled abroad and remains in exile in Belgium.
Junqueras faces the longest potential sentence for the alleged crime of rebellion, at 25 years. Others accused of the same charge, including former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carma Forcadell, could receive sentences of up to 17 years.

They also face the lesser charge of sedition, as do several former ministers. There is also the accusation of misuse of public funds, in organising a referendum that had been declared illegal by Madrid.

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