Trial of Catalan separatists begins in Madrid amid protests

Journalists wait outside the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. Spain is bracing for the nation's most sensitive trial in four d

Journalists wait outside the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. Spain is bracing for the nation's most sensitive trial in four d

A bus belonging to Spain's Civil Guard allegedly carrying Catalonian politicians and activists, arrives at the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesda

A bus belonging to Spain's Civil Guard allegedly carrying Catalonian politicians and activists, arrives at the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesda

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 file photo, Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, center, is greeted after a vote on independence in the Catala

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 file photo, Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, center, is greeted after a vote on independence in the Catala

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 file photo, Catalan regional Vice-President, Oriol Junqueras, left, and Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, atte

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 file photo, Catalan regional Vice-President, Oriol Junqueras, left, and Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, atte

A bus belonging to Spain's Civil Guard allegedly carrying Catalonian politicians and activists, arrives at the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesda

A bus belonging to Spain's Civil Guard allegedly carrying Catalonian politicians and activists, arrives at the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesda

A bus belonging to Spain's Civil Guard allegedly carrying Catalonian politicians and activists, arrives at the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesda

A bus belonging to Spain's Civil Guard allegedly carrying Catalonian politicians and activists, arrives at the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, Tuesda

MADRID (AP) — Protesters have blocked highways in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia, as the trial of separatist leaders gets underway in the country's Supreme Court in Madrid.

Tuesday's protests, which have also led authorities to close off some main roads in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, were timed with the start of arguably Spain's most consequential trial in four decades of democracy.

Twelve defendants are being tried for their roles in pushing ahead with a unilateral independence declaration based on the results of a secession referendum that ignored a constitutional ban. Some face decades in prison if they are found guilty of rebellion.

The proceedings are being broadcast live on television.