St Andrews academic released on bail

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Edinburgh Sheriff  Court has released Catalan separatist, Clara Ponsatí, on bail and allowed her to keep her passport, according to her lawyer, Aamer Anwar.

Ponsatí, a professor in the University’s School Finance and Ecomomics and a former education minister in the Catalan regional government, fled to Brussels with ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont after the failed unilateral declaration of independence in October 2017, and is facing charges of sedition for her involvement in the breakaway bid. Puigdemont remained in Brussels, while Ponsatí later settled in Scotland.

Spain’s Supreme Court reactivated European arrest warrants for Ponsatí and two other former members of the Catalan government – Toni Comín and Lluís Puig – in early November, a month after handing down a decision in the trial of 12 other leaders of the 2017 secession bid.

The former regional minister handed herself in to police station in Edinburgh on Thursday, after the United Kingdom agreed to process the new warrant for her arrest. Ponsatí was accompanied by her lawyer, Aamer Anwar, who said that Spain was “abusing the extradition process”  after his client had entered the police station.

Mr Anwar continued: “Clara Ponsati faces a single charge of ‘sedition’ which relates to the organising of the referendum in her role as the minister for education. In Scotland, sedition was abolished a long time ago. The warrant is full of contradictions and mistakes, whilst it accuses Clara of everything, in reality the warrant provides no real examples of any alleged crime.”

“Clara submits that she should not be extradited for a ‘show trial’ in the Supreme Court, where she believes the only verdict would be one of guilt. Clara views these charges as a ‘politically-motivated prosecution’. We will submit that Clara’s human rights cannot be guaranteed in the Spanish Courts.”

The UK’s SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at the National Entries) office approved the European arrest warrant on November 8, shortly after receiving the “essential information” it had asked of Spain – specifically information regarding the nature of the offence, the time and place at which it was committed, and the connection between the offence and Ponsatí.

Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena, who is overseeing the case, sent back a document that outlined how Ponsatí’s actions helped the 2017 secession bid. In the document, Llarena replied: “[Ponsatí] disobeyed the resolutions and requirements reiterated by the Constitutional Court of Spain, as well as the order from the High Court of Catalonia […] and carried out said actions aiming to hold an independence referendum, despite knowing about the illegality and invalidity of the process, which in the end led to violent acts, just as had been expected, all with the aim of altering the current legal and constitutional order.”

Ponsatí is scheduled to next appear in court on December 12.

Credits: El Pais; BBC; IBT

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