ONE of the Catalan pro-independence leaders on trial for rebellion and sedition has said prosecutors have as yet offered no evidence to support the charges or allegations of violence arising from the 2017 referendum.

Jordi Sanchez, who is the lead candidate for Congress for the pro-indy Together for Catalonia (JxCat) in next month’s snap Spanish election, made the comments in a written interview with the Catalan daily El Nacional.

Five weeks into the trial, Sanchez, who has been in pre-trial detention for more than a year, said: “The only thing we’ve heard has been stories, words, without evidence. No incriminating fact.

“The public prosecution remains wedded to a narrative but the supporting evidence for violence and rebellion or sedition hasn’t appeared.”

Sanchez, who led the pro-indy Catalan National Assembly (ANC), said he was sure that the principal judge in the case, Manuel Marchena, felt “under watch” by the European Court of Human Rights and international observers.

Aside from the judge, he said prosecutors were “having a hard time not making fools of themselves”.

He said: “Very often they don’t even find their papers, they confuse basic details. They’re a victim of their own narrative.

“But I see them as too proud, incapable of course correction.”

Sanchez went on to say he had refused to contemplate a guilty verdict: “No. If the trial is just, and the sentence is too, I only see absolution being possible.

“I am focused on absolution and the daily construction of my defence. There are many weeks to go. And until the sentences, months.”

Meanwhile, the row over yellow ribbons on public buildings – a sign of solidarity with the accused and other exiled ministers – took another twist yesterday when Catalan President Quim Torra finally obeyed an electoral authority instruction to remove them.

Government workers covered the original banners with another featuring a white ribbon with a diagonal red stripe – similar to that used by Omnium Cultural.

In another development, The Spanish embassy in New York has signed a three-month $100,000 (£76,600) contract with a PR and business services group to improve the country’s image in America.

Abernathy MacGregor will help to “foster the image of Spain in the world and to counteract the effects of so-called fake news”.