Ex-Catalan minister bailed after arrest under Spanish extradition warrant

Ex-Catalan minister bailed after arrest under Spanish extradition warrant

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati has been released on bail after appearing in court in Edinburgh as Spanish authorities seek her extradition.

Ms Ponsati, a professor at St Andrews University, handed herself in to police on Thursday as she faces a charge of sedition over her role in Catalonia’s unsanctioned independence referendum in 2017.

She could be sentenced to 15 years behind bars if convicted, with nine other Catalan officials given jail sentences of between nine and 13 years for the same offence last month.

Ms Ponsati waves to dozens of her supporters outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court after she was granted bail (Lesley Martin/PA)
Ms Ponsati waves to dozens of her supporters outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court after she was granted bail (Lesley Martin/PA)

Speaking outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court, her lawyer Aamer Anwar said: “If there is anyone who should be put on trial then it is the Spanish state for unleashing an orgy of violence on the Catalan people, for its assaults on the right to vote, the right to protest and on the fundamental human right to self-determination.

“Clara trusts that her fate now lies in the hands of the Scottish justice system, which she believes to be impartial, robust and independent.

“Our legal system will not be swayed by such interference or threats and will come to a decision based on the law.

Ms Ponsati’s lawyer Aamer Anwar, right, said she has faith in the Scottish justice system (Lesley Martin/PA)
Ms Ponsati’s lawyer Aamer Anwar, right, said she has faith in the Scottish justice system (Lesley Martin/PA)

“Clara believes that the Catalan people are changing the course of their history and that each act of repression by Spain brings the day that Catalonia is free closer.”

Ms Ponsati faces a single charge of sedition which relates to the organising of the referendum in her role as education minister, Mr Anwar said.

The legal team has been instructed to defend her from what she describes as “judicially motivated revenge”, he added.

Ms Ponsati met with supporters after being bailed (Lesley Martin/PA)
Ms Ponsati met with supporters after being bailed (Lesley Martin/PA)

The academic had been expected to hand herself in to police last week, but her lawyers said there were “glaring contradictions” in the warrant issued for her arrest.

However, the warrant was accepted by UK authorities for execution following a clarification from Spain’s Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena.

A procedural hearing is scheduled to take place on December 12 and the full hearing is likely to take place in the spring.

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