Spain’s public prosecutor has branded the 2017 independence push as “a coup d’etat” during their closing arguments in the Supreme Court trial of 12 Catalan political leaders from that period. Insurrection, violence, uprising and coercion. Attorney Javier Zaragoza mapped out the road to independence culminating with the referendum and the declaration of independence, using these terms in an effort to convince the judge that nine of the prosecuted officials should be sentenced to up to 25 years in jail for rebellion.

“It was a serious attack on the foundations of the constitution with illegal, coercive methods, using violence when needed,” he said on Tuesday morning. The prosecutor claimed that leaders in the dock sought to “revoke, suspend or modify the Spanish constitution.”

Although his arguments applied to all 12 prosecuted pro-independence figures, he especially targeted the Catalan vice-president in 2017, Oriol Junqueras. “I believe Junqueras is the main driver behind the referendum.” The president at that time, Carles Puigdemont, is in exile, and therefore not part of the proceedings.

Criticism of UN’s calls to release leaders

Zaragoza also denied that the nine politicians and activists in preventative detention are political prisoners. “There are no political prisoners, they are no political prisoners” he insisted.

He also rejected the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s report urging the “immediate” release of the leaders, questioning its source and accusing the institution of ignoring Spain’s arguments.