SPANISH judges are being accused of bending the law “in their reckless supposed protection of Spain’s unity” to make an example of Catalan independence leaders whose trial is due to start next week.

The accusation comes from Jordi Cuixart – who heads Omnium Cultural – one of the dozen awaiting their day in court.

Writing exclusively for The National from Soto del Real prison in Madrid, Cuixart does not hide his part in the October 1, 2017, referendum. Along with Jordi Sanchez, president of the grassroots Catalan National Assembly (ANC), he led peaceful demonstrations, “always guided by the strictest principles of non-violence”. He says he has never been a politician or held political office, but has been in prison since October 16, 2017.

“I, along with 11 others, am being prosecuted for having defended the most basic human rights: the right to vote on one’s political future, the right to demonstrate peacefully, the right to freedom of expression,” he says. “No matter what the outcome of the trial, my resolve to continue defending these rights will remain firm.

“In their reckless supposed protection of Spain’s unity, the Spanish judiciary has bent and twisted the law in order to make an example of us.

“The Supreme Court agreed to try two civil society leaders and 10 former parliament and government leaders on charges of rebellion, sedition and even criminal organisation. This is despite the fact that sedition and rebellion require the use of violence, something that only the Spanish police engaged in during Catalonia’s... self-determination referendum.

“By trying me at the highest court in the land I am denied any right of appeal, as guaranteed to all citizens in the European Union.”

READ MORE: Jordi Cuixart: Catalan trials will judge Spanish democracy

Cuixart says he has seen his wife and son for just a few hours a month over the past year, watching his boy grow up from behind a prison glass partition. But his biggest worry is the collusion between Spain’s highest court and the “far-right, ultra-nationalist and xenophobic political party, Vox”, which will stand alongside the State Prosecutor and Attorney General next week.

“Vox is supported by the likes of Marine le Pen and Steve Bannon, the kind of ideologues who want to bring down the European Union and send us back to the 1930’s.

“Despite this, judicial proceedings have often followed the dictates of this extremist party, sometimes even to the letter.”

However, he says there is still hope for Spanish democracy, “as long as my fellow Europeans raise their voices in defence of human rights”.

“If there is a call throughout the continent for a political solution to the existing political problem between Catalonia and Spain, rather than judicial vengeance, then Spain’s democracy will prevail.”

Exiled Catalan ministers – including ex-president Carles Puigdemont and former education minister Clara Ponsati – will start an international campaign on Monday to explain the situation in Catalonia to a wider audience.