DEMONSTRATIONS are being organised across Europe – including Scotland – as 12 pro-Catalan independence leaders go on trial in Spain’s highest court charged with mounting a rebellion over their role in the October 2017 referendum.

The accused – some of whom have been incarcerated for over a year – include former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, who was in charge of home affairs, ex-speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and grassroots leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez. Protests are planned for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, while the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has called for mobilisations in European capitals, as well as outside the offices of the EU delegation to the US.

Current Catalan Speaker, Roger Torrent, will address a rally outside the Supreme Court in Madrid, which will also be attended by President Quim Torra.

In the Commons, SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs will wear yellow ribbons to show their backing for the Catalans’ right to self-determination.

The long-awaited trial will also put Spain’s highly-politicised judiciary in the dock after judges dismissed more than 50 witnesses – including UN special rapporteurs and human rights groups – who had been called to give evidence for the defence.

Scottish lawyer, Aamer Anwar, told Catalan television channel TV3 that European leaders had been “complicit” in their silence over what was happening in Spain.

“Over the last several months Spain has exposed itself repeatedly as a judicial system that is determined to seek judicial revenge and it is very important that whilst the European leaders are complicit with their silence that the exiles expose what is taking place in Catalonia,” said Anwar, who fought the extradition to Spain of St Andrews Professor Clara Ponsati, who was Catalan education minister.

“Clara Ponsati, Carles Puigdemont and the rest are determined to support their colleagues and to expose the lack of fairness, impartiality and what was described by us in the Scottish courts, the Belgian courts and the German courts repeatedly as political persecution.

“Ultimately, in the rest of Europe we fundamentally believe self-determination is not a crime.

“These politicians are not criminals and the fact that they will stand trial is abhorrent.

“It is an abuse of the process and should never have been allowed to happen in a modern society in Europe. European leaders have been complicit in their silence, they have acted with cowardice.”

Members of European Democratic Lawyers (AED) have warned that the trial is not simply a matter for Spain, but has “European reach”.

The group criticised “arbitrary detentions” and the court’s decision not to give defence teams enough time to study documentation and the proposed witnesses.

Meanwhile, concern over getting his budget through parliament without the support of Catalan MPs has led to speculation that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will call a snap election for mid-April.

His ruling Socialists hold less than a quarter of the seats in the lower house, and needs the support of independence-supporting members to pass any of his proposals.

Another potential date could be May 26, which would coincide with European, regional and local polls.