THE trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders over the 2017 referendum yesterday drew to a close in Madrid with a call from the former vice-president for dialogue to settle the conflict between Catalonia and Spain.

In his closing remarks to the Supreme Court – several of whose judges appeared to be sleeping during proceedings – Oriol Junqueras said he was a man of peace with a “commitment to goodness”.

He said: “I have always avoided the bad policy that denies dialogue, negotiation and agreement, and I understand that it has transferred to you the responsibility to issue a ruling.

“I sincerely believe that the best for everything, for Catalonia, for Spain and for Europe, it would be to turn the question into the field of politics, good politics … in the field of dialogue, negotiation and agreement.”

Junqueras, who has been in jail with six other accused for more than 18 months, added: “The desire for dialogue, negotiation and agreement from respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms should never be a crime. All my books, articles, speeches, actions demonstrate the commitment that cannot be waived with kindness and respect for human dignity.”

Jordi Cuixart, president of the grassroots, pro-indy group Omnium Cultural, reiterated the political nature of the trial.

He said: “The problem we have is civil obedience that allows refugees to die in the sea or allow a bailout while they are evicted.

“Civil obedience allows that we are accused by the extreme right and the Spanish government.

“In this trial we have not solved the bottom line. We are still obsessed with looking for an enemy.

“Some witnesses have not been able to express themselves normally. This is a political conflict and this is a political judgment. The first day we talked about the right to self-determination.”

Although the trial ended yesterday, the judges are not expected to give their verdicts until the autumn.