Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Sunday, 15 april 2018 | THE GUARDIAN

Catalan academic's lawyer accuses Spain of abusing legal process

Spanish government abusing European arrest warrant, Clara Ponsatí extradition hearing told



THE GUARDIAN
12.04.2018
 
LIBBY BROOKS
 
Lawyers for Clara Ponsatí, the Catalan academic facing extradition from Scotland to Spain on charges of rebellion, have accused the Spanish government of abusing the European arrest warrant.

At a hearing on Thursday morning at Edinburgh sheriff court, Gordon Jackson QC said: “The fundamental position which is taken here is the abuse of process. This is wrapping up in legalistic form something which is purely a political decision.”

Ponsatí faces charges of rebellion and misusing €1.6m (£1.4m) of public funds in her role in the Catalan regional government, which organised an illegal independence referendum in October. The 19-page warrant blames her in part for injuries it claims members of the Spanish security forces suffered as they attempted to close down polling stations.

Making a brief statement to the press after the hearing, Ponsatí’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “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.”

The highly regarded head of St Andrews University’s economics school returned to Scotland via Belgium when she fled Spain along with the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and three other members of his team after their government was forced from office.

Jackson told the court that a substantial amount of preparation remained to be done on the case for the full hearing, which he estimated would last at least eight days and require witnesses from outside the jurisdiction, raising the possibility of Spanish authorities being called.

The next procedural hearing was postponed until 15 May, with the full hearing provisionally scheduled for 30 July.
 
A crowd of about 50 supporters gathered outside the court, waving saltires and Catalan flags, and chanting “Clara! Clara!” as Ponsatí emerged following her appearance.
 
A crowdfunding appeal to support her legal costs has reached more than £234,000.

Last week, a German court rejected rebellion as grounds for Puigdemont’s extradition from the country and released him on bail.

Continuing attempts to form a new Catalan government suffered another setback on Thursday after the supreme court once again refused to authorise the release of an MP who has been put forward as a presidential candidate.

The judge argued that Jordi Sànchez, who has been in prison since October, might resume his secessionist efforts if allowed to attend the investiture debate on Friday.

The region has been without a government since late December, when pro-independence Catalan parties retained their parliamentary majority in an election called by Madrid after the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, sacked Puigdemont and his cabinet.

Also on Thursday, a judge at Spain’s national court ruled that the organiser of the grassroots Catalan pro-independence group Committeesfor the Defence of the Republic should not face charges of rebellion and terrorism over her alleged role in Easter protests that saw roads and railways blocked.

The judge ordered the woman, who was arrested by the Guardia Civil on Tuesday on suspicion of terrorism, freed on bail and said she should instead be investigated for public order offences.
 
Additional reporting by Sam Jones in Madrid
 
 


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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

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