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Trial of Catalan regional president Quim Torra begins

CATALONIA regional president Quim Torra’s trial for displaying separatist symbols on public buildings began today.

Following last month’s decision by the Spanish Supreme Court to imprison nine former Catalan regional leaders for between nine and 13 years for sedition, the trial will showcase Spain’s draconian approach to smashing the region’s separatist movement.

Mr Torra is unlikely to be jailed but if found guilty could be declared unfit to hold public office — a move that would force yet another election on the region and cement angry independence supporters’ suspicion that the state is waging “lawfare” against their elected politicians.

Prosecutors are charging Mr Torra with failing to comply with orders from the country’s electoral board to remove yellow secession ribbon symbols from the regional government’s headquarters in Barcelona before Spain’s April 28 national election.

The electoral board says the ribbons are “tools of political propaganda” and violate campaigning laws. Mr Torra says the board had no right to tell him to remove them.

The charge is especially incendiary as the yellow ribbons are worn as an expression of support for the politicians who have already been jailed.

The trial is likely to cause further problems for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who lacks a parliamentary majority despite agreeing a coalition deal with the socialist Unidas Podemos alliance, which includes the Communist Party.

Support from separatist parties for the left at national level has evaporated following the persecution of their officials and concessions to them are likely to be attacked as weakness by a resurgent fascist Vox party.

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