00:50 GMT18 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The trial of Catalan independence movement leaders, which began in Madrid earlier on Tuesday, is a "stress test" for Spanish judiciary system and democracy, former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said.

    "The trial that has started in Madrid this morning is a test for the whole judiciary Spanish system, therefore [it] is a stress test for the Spanish democracy… I want to ask also to the European Union institutions, why European Union is more concerned by what is going on, for example, in Venezuela, than what is happening in Madrid today," Puigdemont said at a press conference in Berlin.

    READ MORE: Puigdemont Says to Keep Working on Catalan Independence Cause From Belgium

    On October 1, 2017, Catalonia held a referendum on the region's independence from Spain. The vast majority of voters backed secession. The plebiscite was not, however, recognized by Madrid, which subsequently imposed direct rule over the autonomous region and dismissed its government.

    Spanish authorities have opened a criminal case against 30 Catalan politicians and officials, arresting four of them, while Puigdemont, as well as several advisers of the dissolved Catalan government, fled Spain before the trial.


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    hearing, court, Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia, Spain
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