SUPREME Court judges in Spain have told lawyers for the 12 Catalan independence leaders their trial will end on June 11 – but each of them will be allowed only 15 minutes to make their closing statements.

The official communiqué was given to the defence team yesterday and means the trial will end after almost four months of evidence.

However, Catalonia’s Foreign Minister, Alfred Bosch, said it was only finishing because it was damaging Spain’s image abroad.

Speaking exclusively to The National, he said: “It is clear that Spain wants to end this trial as fast as possible because they are well aware that this trial is damaging Spain’s image.

“That is why we have seen these marathon sessions at the courtroom, following these completely unbalanced timetables.

“We’ve seen how international experts and observers have been critical about how the trial has been carried out by the Spanish Supreme Court, calling it a political trial.

“Now we have to await the sentences. But as we have seen how the process has developed so far, it is difficult to be optimistic.

“This trial is a historic mistake, you cannot pretend to solve a political problem in the courtrooms or in prison cells.”

Bosch’s sentiments were echoed by Scots lawyer Aamer Anwar, who described the time limit as “horrific”.

He said: “I find it horrific that individuals who face up to 30 years in prison should be restricted to 15 minutes closing statements.

“To curtail their closing statements to such a time limit is unacceptable for a trial which has lasted several months, where the prosecution have had most of their requests granted whilst the defence were denied, in essence, the right to mount a defence.

“Many of the international observers consider the trial to be an abuse of the prisoners’ human rights and their right to a fair trial. From start to finish the trial has been condemned for abusing the right to a fair trial, with the process described as politically motivated dictated by judicial revenge.

“It is ironic that prosecutors from the far-right Vox party have actually been elected to the Spanish parliament alongside several of the political prisoners, yet Spain still claims that the trial can be impartial.

“Having watched the trial I have no faith that justice will be served in Madrid, it is inevitable that this case will end up in the European Courts of Justice.”

Trial sessions next week have been earmarked for “documentary evidence”, the last phase before the defence closing remarks.

Under the Spanish legal system, anyone can become a co-accuser, or “people’s prosecutor”, to take part in such trials. As such, representatives from Vox have been sitting alongside state prosecutors throughout.

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Catalonia, was in the Madrid courtroom yesterday, and told The National their presence was strange: “It was weird to see two counsel for Vox sitting alongside the four state prosecutors. They looked official, if sensibly unpleasant. Most of the evidence was technical, centring on the administration of the referendum, the expenses and things.”

He added that the defendants appeared in good spirits: “I had a brief word with Oriol Junqueras and some of their family members, although police kept us from getting to close to the prisoners. The prisoners certainly didn’t seem to be diminished and were quite cheerful as a whole.”