Article published at BBC, February 6th 2017.
Thousands of supporters filled the streets outside a court in Barcelona on Monday as the former Catalan president Artur Mas went on trial.
He is accused of serious civil disobedience over Catalonia’s unofficial vote in November 2014 seeking independence from Spain.
The vote went ahead in defiance of an order from Spain’s constitutional court.
Prosecutors are calling for him to be disqualified from office for 10 years.
Mr Mas, his deputy Joana Ortega, and Catalan former education minister Irene Rigau face accusations ranging from disobedience and perverting the course of justice to misuse of public funds.
Large crowds appeared outside the court in Barcelona on Monday chanting “you are not alone”, “democracy is not a crime” and “independence”.
The case is being used by pro-independence supporters to galvanise their campaign. The current government has promised to hold a new vote in September.
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