Clara Ponsatí has ‘never committed a criminal act in her life’, says her lawyer Aamer Anwar

Written by Jenni Davidson on 12 April 2018 in News

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar said Spain was “guilty of an abuse of process” over attempts to extradite Ponsatí

Clara Ponsatí and her lawyer, Aamer Anwar - Image credit: PA Images

Clara Ponsatí has “never committed a criminal act in her life”, says her lawyer, Aamer Anwar.

Spain issued a European arrest warrant for the Catalan politician and St Andrew’s University lecturer last month, accusing her of “violent rebellion” in relation to the Catalan independence referendum in October 2017.

But in a statement outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court today following a hearing, Anwar said Ponsatí “utterly refutes the charges” and that she had “never committed a criminal act in her life”.

He added that “fundamentally that the Spanish are guilty of an abuse of process” in their attempt to have her extradited.

Anwar will fight the extradition on a number of grounds, including that there is no proof Ponsatí committed a crime, that the crime she is accused of – violent rebellion – does not exist in Scotland and that Spain has “systematically abused the process of extradition treaty” to set out allegations it knows do not amount to crimes in Spanish courts.

He will also argue that the warrant is an abuse of Ponsatí’s human rights, having been issued with the aim of prosecuting her for her political opinions and that if extradited there is a risk she could be “prejudiced at trial or punished or detained or restricted in her personal liberty” for her political views.

Anwar said the warrant was a “politically motivated prosecution of Clara” and he said that while she was accused of orchestrating violence, the 19-page warrant does not specify “a single act of violence or incitement attributable to her”.

He also noted that it does not mention that the Spanish police have been accused of carrying out “brutal unprovoked attacks” against voters at polling stations and that no police officer has been prosecuted over the incidents, suggesting that the behaviour of the police “has been compared to the dark days of Francoism”.

Anwar added: “Scotland has a proud history of protecting those who face a grave risk of injustice and oppression and we will argue that Spain is guilty of abusing the European Arrest Warrant which was never meant to be used as a tool of political repression.

“We have begun work with lawyers in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Catalonia and the conduct of Spain will once again be subjected to the full glare of international scrutiny.

“Clara neither expects nor wants politicians to interfere in Scotland’s robust and independent judicial process, but she is truly grateful for the support received from across Scotland, the UK, Europe, Catalonia as well as from the Scottish Government.

“Clara has instructed us to fight for her liberty and recognises her fate is also linked to the struggle of the Catalan people for freedom.”

A full two-week hearing on whether to carry out the extradition will start on 30 July, with preliminary hearings on the 15 May and the 5 July.

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