Former PM, Mariano Rajoy, testifies in trial of 12 rebel Catalan leaders

Rajoy answered questions about his government's role.
Rajoy answered questions about his government's role. / REUTERS
  • The accused have all been questioned and a raft of politicians have been giving their views to the court

The trial of the 12 Catalan politicians and former campaign leaders over their involvement in the illegal declaration of independence in 2017 has continued this week.

Having heard the testimony of all 12 in the dock, on Wednesday it was the turn of former prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, and his deputy, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, to give evidence about their experiences dealing with the Catalan independence movement leading up to September and October last year. Other former ministers from Madrid and politicians were being called as the court tries to establish to what extent Catalan politicians used public funds to pay for their illegal referendum, ignored court orders to stop and encouraged any violence.

Mariano Rajoy told judges that "on nine occasions" an alert went out from central tax authorities, who were monitoring the regional government's accounts, that money may have been used towards paying for a banned referendum.

"No prime minister could put up with somebody trying to dissolve the legal basis of their country," said Rajoy, explaining why the government went on to disrupt the voting in the illegal referendum and eventually suspend devolved powers in Catalonia after a "deliberately confusing" declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament.

Earlier on Wednesday, former deputy PM, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said in court, "We told [the heads of the Catalan government] time and time again not to go down that route, that they were ruining social cohesion, that the atmosphere was unbearable."

The 12 are on trial on charges ranging from misuse of public funds to rebellion. Prosecutors asked to call 250 witnesses and this phase was focusing on the national politicians' reaction to events in Catalonia.