Wednesday 25 April 2018

'I fear cruelty' - ex-Catalan minister facing UK extradition

Clara Ponsati greets supporters outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court after she was bailed. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA
Clara Ponsati greets supporters outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court after she was bailed. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA

Auslan Cramb

A former Catalan minister began a legal battle against extradition from Britain yesterday as she hit out at the Spanish government's "abuse of power".

Prof Clara Ponsati handed herself in at a police station in Edinburgh to be formally arrested before being released on bail after a brief court hearing.

In an online statement on a crowdfunding page which raised more than £170,000 (€194,000) in a matter of hours to help pay for her legal costs, Prof Ponsati said she was fighting against a "systematic attempt to criminalise the desire for independence" in Catalonia.

She added: "There is no guarantee of due process in Spain and no guarantee of a fair trial in a country where most members of the Catalan government are already in prison or in exile.

"If I return, I believe I am likely to be subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment by the authorities."

She is being sought by the authorities in Madrid on charges of rebellion and misappropriation of public funds.

As she arrived at St Leonard's police station yesterday, Aamer Anwar, her lawyer, said: "Clara wishes for me to state that these charges are politically motivated and a grotesque distortion of the truth. She can't believe she is being held responsible for violence that took place on the day of the referendum.

"She believes that the Catalan people tried to express a democratic right to decide their own destiny and the only people that should be held responsible for the brutal violence are the Spanish police and the 6,000 state security forces who attacked the Catalan people on behalf of the Spanish government."

He also said she was "humbled" by the support she had received in Scotland.

The academic was made the subject of a European arrest warrant last week, along with Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia's former leader, and three other ministers. In Barcelona, independence parties in the Catalan parliament passed a resolution endorsing the right of Mr Puigdemont, who was arrested in Germany on Sunday, to be invested as president. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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