The trial of the two Catalan police officers who accompanied Catalonia’s exiled president Carles Puigdemont off duty in Germany in March 2018 has begun in Spain’s National Court in San Fernando de Henares, just outside Madrid. The two Mossos d’Esquadra agents said in court on Tuesday that at no time did they escort Puigdemont, pretended to hide their movements from police or thought they were committing any crime, as the lawyers had already agreed on turning to the Belgian prosecution.

Both agents have refused to answer questions from the Spanish prosecution, who requests three years in prison for the crime of concealment. Carles Puigdemont left Catalonia in the autumn of 2017 after the peak of the independence push that year. After the referendum was held on 1 October that year, the Catalan parliament then moved to declare independence, that was immediately suspended with the intention of engaging in talks with the Spanish government.

All sovereign Catalan institutions and governmental bodies were then dissolved by the Spanish government, as the right-wing People’s Party, leading the administration at the time, imposed direct rule on Catalonia. Many independence leaders such as president Carles Puigdemont and former ministers Toni Puig and Clara Ponsatí, among others, left Catalonia to go into exile.

Others chose to stay, such as former vice president Oriol Junqueras and various other former ministers and activists. They were soon jailed, put on trial, convicted of sedition, and eventually pardoned at the end of June 2021 due to international pressure.

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