Spain’s Constitutional Court on Thursday turned down appeals for release by two activist leaders currently on trial in the Supreme Court for their part in the 2017 independence bid.  Jordi Cuixart, the head of Òmnium Cultural, and Jordi Sànchez, now an MP but at the time head of the Catalan National Assembly, have been in custody since October 16, 2017.

The court’s ruling is significant, as it means both defendants can now appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, having exhausted all legal avenues in Spain. Cuixart and Sànchez made their appeals on the grounds that their pre-trial imprisonment since 2017 is an infringement of their fundamental rights.

Cuixart and Sànchez are charged with rebellion for leading protests against raids on Catalan government buildings by Spanish police on September 20, 2017. Both leaders testified in the Supreme Court last week, with Cuixart defending “the right to protest” and Sànchez insisting that the independence court case is a “political trial.”