What took place in Catalonia in the fall of 2017 were not “uprisings” but rather “demonstrations and protests,” the lawyer of three Catalan leaders on trial over the independence bid told the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In his closing arguments in the trial, Jordi Pina, who is representing former ministers, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, and former activist leader, Jordi Sànchez, defended the right of the public to protest and even added that protesting judicial decisions is “necessary.”

Spanish police acted on court orders in raids of government buildings and businesses on September 20, 2017, sparking widespread protests, while the attempt by police to prevent the unilateral referendum on October 1 was also ordered by judges. What’s more, Pina denied the prosecution’s allegation of “incitement” on behalf of his clients in urging more than two million people to vote in the referendum that had been declared illegal by the Spanish courts.

Above all, Pina rejected the charge of rebellion against his clients, insisting that the law foresees the use of “armed force,” while “the passive resistance shown by citizens is incompatible with the concept of a public uprising.”

Where are the people hitting police officers?

The lawyer also highlighted the footage taken during the referendum that was shown in court amid a “deafening silence,” asking “where are the people hitting police officers?” Instead, he blamed the examples of “reprehensible” conduct on certain members of the Spanish police.

Following the referendum, on October 27, the Catalan Parliament approved a declaration of independence, which the defendants claim was symbolic in nature. Pina pointed out that the following day normal life continued as if nothing had happened, much less an insurrection.

“It’s unnatural to proclaim a republic and independence and then the next day to go to work and for there to be no incidents, when if you had just split from Spain there would have been rejoicing, disorder and attacks if we were talking about a rebellion.”