Exiled Catalan minister Clara Ponsati hands herself in to police in Scotland

Europe

Clara Ponsati arrives to hand herself in at a police station in Edinburgh. Photo: AFP

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati, wanted in Spain for her role in the region’s unilateral bid for independence in 2017, was arrested by Scottish police on Thursday.

Ponsati, 62, handed herself in at a police station in Edinburgh before a scheduled court appearance to face a sedition charge stemming from Catalonia’s unsanctioned referendum.

A small group of demonstrators displaying Catalan and Scottish independence flags and banners greeted her outside St Leonard’s police station.   

Madrid first attempted to extradite the St Andrews University academic, a former education minister in the regional government of deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, last year.

But a Spanish Supreme Court judge abruptly dropped European and international arrest warrants for her and several other separatist leaders in July, 2018.

However, the same court on October 14 sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy prison terms over the failed 2017 independence bid and issued a fresh arrest warrant for Ponsati.

She has branded the charge “a prosecution with political motivations”.   

“We believe this is an abuse of the extradition process,” her lawyer Aamer Anwar said outside the police station.

“The crime of sedition is a 16th-century offence”, he added, noting it was abolished long ago in Scotland.

“We will be fighting this on the basis of Clara’s human rights being abused if she is returned back to Spain.”   

Ponsati’s legal team is expected to apply for bail at the afternoon hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

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