A TEAM of international observers has said they found “serious irregularities” in the trial of Catalan independence leaders and said it “does not offer the necessary guarantees to describe it as just”.

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EuroMed Rights) yesterday published their report on the Spanish Supreme Court trial, claiming that police witnesses relied on “stereotyped testimonials”.

“Can one ... security forces official say something other than what his superior said one day before?” they asked.

“As a result, during hearings to witnesses, the same speeches are often repeated as stereotypical statements, which puts into question the spontaneity and veracity of statements.”

The report carried out in collaboration with International Trial Watch (ITW) saw more than 60 observers from five continents attend the trial.

They said an essential element was missing – the principle of contradiction – which, they said, “should allow each party to express themselves and bring to light the truth of the alleged facts”.

The presentation of videos of events surrounding the October 1, 2017 referendum, were only introduced in the last days of the trial, which “made it impossible for a true discussion to take place” or any debate on the principle of contradiction.

Media organisations who broadcast the trial were praised for their transparency, but the observers wondered why witnesses did not follow the sessions before they appeared, and “statements could not be counteracted by new ones, interrogations or with the videos posted at the time they declared”.

Videos of some of the protests held in the run-up to the poll did not show “violence or tumults” said the team, but demonstrated “massive and peaceful” manifestations.

If there were altercations, they described them as “minor, very insignificant, without the use of weapons, and in any case they can be classified as crimes of public disorder that are neither rebellion nor sedition” – the charges for which the accused were tried.

“For this reason, the international arrest warrants and the prolonged provisional prison of some defendants also seem disproportionate measures, as a consequence of the exaggerated rating of the acts as a rebellion crime, and a violation of the right to freedom, as established by the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Observers were also critical of the court president Manuel Marchena, who behaved in a “military” fashion, “improvising the calendar and not allowing debate”.

The team also believed that some of the prosecutor’s evidence was based on research focussing on previous events which were “alien” to the case.

“Therefore, the observers consider that the conditions for a fair trial are not fulfilled due to the absence of a contradictory debate, the multiple and repeated violations of the rights of the defence, the multiplicity of procedures and the use of documents of other unfinished investigations of which the defence had not been informed,” they concluded.

The report came as the provincial electoral board told Catalan state broadcaster TV3 and Catalunya Radio that use of the terms “political prisoners” and “exile” were prohibited in the run-up to Spain’s general election on November 10, along with any mention of the “Council of the Republic” – the body set up in his Belgian exile by former president Carles Puigdemont. This ruling came in response to a petition from the right-wing Citizens party, which also wanted a ban on the use of “police repression” or “referendum on October 1”.

The board said the terms “exile” and “political prisoners” violated the principle of political pluralism, but the professional councils of TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio said the resolutions were “acts of censorship incompatible with respect for freedom of expression and freedom of the press”.

Author, journalist and broadcaster in Catalonia, Tim Parfitt, noted on Twitter: “Are we still allowed to call Catalonia ‘Catalonia’?”