MADRID – Update on the Spain-Catalonia trial and politics (local time):

1:30 p.m.

The former leader of the Catalan independence movement who fled Spain has called for 12 separatists who start their trial in Madrid to be absolved for their alleged crimes.

Carles Puigdemont said in Berlin that "the trial that opened in Madrid this morning is a test for the whole of the Spanish judicial system, so it is a test of resistance for the Spanish democracy" .

He adds: "I hope, however, that the Spanish state will take this opportunity to pronounce the correct sentence, namely absolution."

Puigdemont managed to avoid extradition from Germany when a German court refused to send him back to Spain for rebellion reasons last year. He lives in Belgium since he fled to Spain in October 2017 after he countered the warnings of the Spanish authorities and led a secession bid that allegedly violated the Constitution.

The dozen high-level separatists whose trial in the Supreme Court of Spain began Tuesday face charges of rebellion.

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9:45

Protesters blocked roads in the north-eastern region of Catalonia, as the trial of separatist leaders begins in the country's Supreme Court in Madrid.

Tuesday's protests, which also led the authorities to close some of the main arteries of the Catalan capital, Barcelona, ​​were marked by the start of the arguably most decisive trial for Spain in four decades of democracy.

Twelve defendants are judged for contributing to the adoption of a unilateral declaration of independence based on the results of a referendum on secession that ignored a constitutional ban. Some face decades of prison if they are convicted of rebellion.

The debates are broadcast live on television.