European arrest warrant for Clara Ponsatí dropped

Written by Jenni Davidson on 20 July 2018 in News

Ponsatí’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, has described it as a “humiliating climbdown” for Spain

Clara Ponsatí and Aamer Anwar in Edinburgh - Image credit: PA Images

The European arrest warrant for former Catalan education minister Clara Ponsatí has been dropped by Spain in what her lawyer Aamer Anwar has described as a “humiliating climbdown” for Spain.

Spain had issued a warrant for Ponsatí, a lecturer at St Andrew’s University, to be extradited to Spain on charges of rebellion and misappropriation of public funds over the Catalan independence referendum.

The extradition case was due to be heard in Edinburgh later this month, with treason being considered as the equivalent Scottish charge.

International warrants for other Catalan politicians who fled abroad have also been dropped.

Spanish supreme court judge Pablo Llarena said he had decided to withdraw the warrants after a German court agreed to extradite former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont only for misuse of public funds and not rebellion, meaning he could not be tried for the more serious charge in Spain under European law.

However, Ponsatí, Puigdemont and the other exiled Catalan politician would still face arrest if they returned to Spain as national warrants against them are still in place.

Anwar welcomed the news but called for the national warrants to be withdrawn as well.

He said: “We welcome the withdrawal of the European arrest warrants albeit that we still await official confirmation from Spain.

“But whilst this is a tremendous victory we also remind people that political prisoners still remain in custody in Spain.

“Clara and others have not had their national warrants withdrawn, thus making Clara a political exile which means if she were to return home she would be arrested.

“We also await to see the next step of the Spanish authorities as they could still reissue revised European arrest warrants although this would clearly be a further example of an abuse of the treaty.”

He added: “If President Sanchez is truly different from the regime of Rajoy then the only solution is a political solution which must mean a guaranteed return of the political exiles and release of all political prisoners with no conditions attached.

“It is the sovereign right of the Catalan people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and it can never be illegal under international law for a people to express their right to self-determination.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her support: “If true, very good news that extradition proceedings have been dropped against @ClaraPonsati.

“Political differences should be pursued democratically not through criminal courts. Let’s hope she is now allowed to get on with her life - and being the credit to Scotland that she is.”

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