Catalan ex-minister Clara Ponsati surrenders to police in Scotland

Grant Boone
March 29, 2018

In anticipation of Ponsati's appearance for her initial extradition hearing, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside of the Sheriff Court building to express their solidarity with the former education minister, who has being held responsible by the Spanish Government for violence at polling stations during the Catalan independence referendum of 1 October, 2017.

Catalan academic Clara Ponsati, accused by Spain of rebellion for her role in Catalonia's independence campaign, was granted bail by a Scottish court on Wednesday as she battles extradition, saying she was the object of political persecution.

Clara Ponsati, Catalonia's former education chief and now a professor at the University of St. Andrews, returned to Scotland in March after fleeing Spain with Puigdemont.

"Clara views these charges as 'political persecution" and submits that her human rights and justice can not be guaranteed in the Spanish Courts.

"Clara remains defiant and resolute and believes that the Spanish government will never be able to crush the spirit of the Catalan people", he said.

Mr Anwar said of Prof Ponsati: 'She is truly humbled by the support she has received from across Scotland as well as that of the Scottish Government, but believes that it is right that our courts must now decide what happens next'.

While Sturgeon has backed the Catalan politicians, she has also made clear that politicians have "no powers to intervene" in the extradition process. "She can not believe that she is being held responsible for the violence that took place on the day of the referendum", Anwar said outside court.

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Addressing the day's events, Anwar said: "Clara is pleased that bail was granted by the Scottish courts, and grateful for the respect and the dignity she was given by Police Scotland and the Scottish court service".

Spain's Supreme Court said it would prosecute 13 key separatists including Puigdemont and Ponsati for "rebellion", a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail. Global warrants were issued last November but later withdrawn.

A crowd-funding appeal set up on Wednesday to pay for her legal costs had raised more than £158,000 by mid-afternoon.

Ponsati was a minister in the Catalan government when it declared independence from the rest of Spain following a referendum in October.

The professor at the University of St. Andrews returned to Scotland in March after fleeing Spain with Catalonia's ex-leader Carles Puigdemont. Shortly after, Puigdemont was detained in Germany after he crossed the border with Denmark on his way from Finland to Belgium.

She had resumed working at the University of St Andrews in Fife.

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