Spanish ambassador to London speaks out in effort to convince world trial is not political

The trial of 12 Catalan separatist leaders in Madrid is of “paramount importance to Spain’s reputation as a modern democracy”, the Spanish ambassador to London, Carlos Bastarreche, has said in a rare public intervention intended to convince the world the trial is not political.

The ambassador, acting as part of a Europe-wide effort by the Madrid government, accused the pro-independence Catalan regional government of “a massive campaign of disinformation” and said the best way to fight back was with transparency.

The trial of the 12, nine of whom are accused of rebellion, begins on Tuesday. Those accused of the most serious charges could face up to 25 years in jail.

The intervention shows that the Spanish government is nervous the high-profile trial could turn the European public against it by seeking to use judicial methods to repress Catalan demands for independence.

Officials from the highly active Catalan foreign ministry have already been to the UK to speak to MPs and claim that the proceedings, which could last as long as three months, amount to a political show trial.

The Madrid government has launched a campaign entitled This is the Real Spain, highlighting the country’s diversity, to counter the Catalan independence movement’s claim that a politicised judiciary is repressing political opinion.

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