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Former Catalan minister sought on fresh arrest warrant

University of St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati fought extradition to Spain last year.

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati (Jane Barlow/PA)
Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Lucy Christie, PA Scotland

A fresh European Arrest Warrant has been issued for former Catalan politician and University of St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati.

The academic is facing a charge of sedition over her role in Catalonia’s unsanctioned independence referendum in 2017.

Her extradition lawyer Aamer Anwar said she “utterly refutes” the charge, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

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Clara Ponsati with lawyer Aamer Anwar (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ex-Catalan education minister Ms Ponsati is expected to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday.

In a statement on her behalf, Mr Anwar said: “This warrant is viewed as a systematic attempt to criminalise the fight for independence by over two million Catalan voters.

“It will be argued by Clara’s legal team that there is no guarantee of a right to a fair trial in Spain, where most members of the Catalan Government are already in prison or in exile.

“Clara believes the charge to be part of ‘a political motivated prosecution’ and submits her extradition would be unjust and incompatible with her human rights.

“The extradition will be opposed robustly and it is Clara’s intent to put on trial the Spanish justice system as well as its politicians who have interfered with due process.”

Economics professor Ms Ponsati was arrested in March 2018 and a four-week extradition hearing was expected to be heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last July.

But a Spanish Supreme Court judge dropped the extradition request and the warrant was formally discharged.

A police spokeswoman said on Tuesday: “We can confirm we are in possession of a European Arrest Warrant for Clara Ponsati.

“We have now been in contact with her solicitor, who is making arrangements for her to hand herself in to police.”

PA

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