A JUDGE’s refusal to allow the use of graphic video images from the 2017 Catalan referendum in the cross-examination of police witnesses could be breaching the defendants’ human rights, according to observers at their trial.

In a report on last week’s proceedings, the International Trial Watch team said their worries about Manuel Marchena’s ruling were exacerbated by the fact that hundreds of civilians were injured as they went to vote in the October 1 indyref.

“The reporting agents have repeatedly denied that there was a disproportionate use of force and denied blows to the head with police batons, punching or anti-regulation actions,” said the observers.

“Not being able to confront the testimony with the recorded images of the facts prevents … possible contradictions and therefore has direct effects on the evaluation of the evidence that the court can make.”

They said police statements had repeatedly referred to the crowds’ “hatred and hostility”, but these were “subjective evaluations that in no way relate the defendants to the imputed facts”.

The report added: “Despite these statements, and in view of the evidence provided so far, there is still a lack of proportionality between such evidence and the charges pursued by the prosecution.”

Their comments came as prosecution claims that Catalan independence leaders led violent clashes with police during the indyref campaign were largely debunked by Sir Hugh Orde, former chief constable of the Police Service on Northern Ireland (PSNI). Omnium Cultural, a pro-indy grassroots organisation – whose leader Jordi Cuixart is among those on trial in Madrid – commissioned the report, for which Orde and a former PSNI assistant chief constable, Duncan McCausland, examined more than 100 videos, documents and social media messages.

Prosecutors claim that Cuixart and co-accused Jordi Sanchez, former president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) orchestrated a violent demonstration by more than 40,000 people as police raided the Catalan economy ministry 10 days before the referendum. But their report said both had asked the crowd to remain peaceful during the protest: “There is a theme running through the speeches of insisting that the protest is peaceful and that violence should be isolated.”

Orde said the indyref, during which police tried to stop people voting, was largely non-violent: “Based on what we viewed the vast majority of protesters can be assessed as non-violent.”

However, the seven judges in the trial ruled the evidence could not be used: “This expert ... does not have direct experience of the events being judged.”