A FORMER Catalan police chief widely praised for his handling of the Barcelona terror attacks, finds himself in the dock today facing a charge of rebellion and a potential 11-year jail term.

Josep Lluis Trapero was removed as head of the Mossos d’Esquadra when Spain imposed direct rule on Catalonia, and is being tried at the national court in Madrid, along with former Mossos director Pere Soler, Cesar Puig, former general secretary of the Catalan interior ministry and former Mossos superintendent Teresa Laplana.

They are accused of colluding with the Catalan independence campaign by their lack of action in preventing the October 1, 2017 referendum, along with their handling of protests during Spanish police raids in Barcelona two weeks before.

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Three of the accused are charged with rebellion, while Laplana is facing the lesser charge of sedition, for which pro-independence political and cultural figures were jailed for up to 13 years. More than 100 witnesses are likely to give evidence in the trial, which is expected to run until March 19. They will start giving their evidence on February 3, left by Guardia Civil colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos, who oversaw the police operation to prevent the indyref and who has accused the Mossos of defying the court order to halt it.

His evidence will, however, be countered by Ferrán López, Trapero’s second-in-command at the time, whom the Spanish government appointed to take over from him. He will argue that the Mossos did comply with the court order, with the blessing of de los Cobos.

Among the witnesses will be former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn, who was interior minister at the time and oversaw the Catalan force. Their evidence is not likely to emerge until nearer the end of the trial. Jordi Sanchez, the grassroots leader who is also imprisoned, will give evidence, along with former Catalan president Artur Mas.

READ MORE: Oriol Junqueras: We must not return to the dark days of repression

The trial will not be televised or streamed live.

Meanwhile, one of the jailed indy leaders, Jordi Cuixart, is back in Lledoners prison after his first 48-hour leave. Both he and Jordi Sanchez are entitled to such leave because they have services a quarter of ther sentences after being in pre-trial detention for two years.

Before returning to prison, Cuixart spoke to vice-president of the pro-indy Omnium Cultural, Marcel Mauri, who tweeted: “A farewell hug, always too brief, after 48h leave (don’t call it freedom). He reminds me that there are 3 million political prisoners in the world. And we are fortunate enough to be able to continue to fight for freedom. The only struggle lost is the one that is abandoned.”