Spanish court gears for high-stakes trial of separatists

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MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Supreme Court is holding a preliminary hearing ahead of a trial of 18 former Catalan officials and activists accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for their parts in last year’s attempt to secede from Spain.

A panel of seven magistrates is hearing from attorneys Tuesday arguing that the case should be judged by a high court in the northeastern Catalonia region rather than at the top court in Madrid. Judges have rejected the move in previous similar appeals.

Former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras and 17 other defendants are not expected to appear in court until procedures begin in earnest at the end of January.

Four defendants in pre-trial custody are three weeks into a hunger strike protesting what they deem unfair treatment by Spain’s judiciary.

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