SPAIN CATALONIA – Initial hearing in trial against Catalan leaders begins

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The first step on the trial against nine Catalan leaders was made in Madrid.

Lawyers and prosecutors and not the defendants, gathered in an initial hearing in which a judge was due to rule on whether the Supreme Court is competent to continue handling the case or it should be transferred to a Catalan tribunal.

The nine Catalan leaders, currently in a jail near Barcelona, are due to be processed for their role in the region’s failed bid to split from Spain last year.

If convicted, they face decades in prison on charges including misappropriation of funds and rebellion.

Four jailed Catalan separatist leaders are currently on hunger strike to protest what they see as mistreatment by the Spanish courts.

The dispute between Catalonia’s independence-seeking regional government and Madrid has worsened in recent weeks as negotiations have reached an impasse.

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