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Separatist leaders on trial for Catalonia secession attempt allowed to attend Spanish parliament

Catalan politicians Josep Rull, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull leave after collecting their credentials at the Spanish parliament in Madrid Picture by Bernat Armangue/AP
By Associated Press Reporter

The five separatist leaders on trial for Catalonia's 2017 secession attempt who were elected to the Spanish parliament last month have picked up their official credentials under police escort.

The Supreme Court allowed the five to get their credentials on Monday and attend the opening session of the new parliament on Tuesday.

However, it will not allow them to participate in any meetings or speak to the press while at the parliament in Madrid.

Former Catalan regional vice-president Oriol Junqueras and three other high-profile separatists won seats in the lower chamber, while Raul Romeva won a seat in the Senate.

The five, along with others, are being held in prison pending trial.

They face several years in prison if found guilty of rebellion.

Police transported them from prison to the parliament buildings.

They all wore suits and spoke with fellow politicians without the visible presence of uniformed police escorts once inside, as seen in televised images.

Despite the media ban, Mr Junqueras posted a short video on Twitter in which he said "we are well because we are with friends" and asked for support for his party in Sunday's European and municipal Spanish elections.

Mr Junqueras is running for a seat in the European Parliament.

He has said he will renounce his seat in the Spanish parliament if he wins one in Europe.

The five, along with four other defendants, are being held in prison during the trial.

They face several years in prison and being banned from holding public office if found guilty of rebellion or other crimes.

Others, including ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, fled Spain.

The Catalan secession bid two years ago plunged Spain into its biggest political crisis in decades.

The north-eastern region's 7.5 million residents are roughly split down the middle over whether to secede from Spain, according to opinion polls.

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