THE CATALAN independence argument will be played out in Edinburgh this morning as one of the region’s political leaders – cited by Spanish authorities over charges of sedition and rebellion – presents herself at a city police station.
Clara Ponsati, a lecturer at St Andrew’s University who was education minister when the Catalan government declared itself independent in October, is wanted under a European arrest warrant issued and reactivated by judges in Spain, having been abandoned previously.
Scots law differs to the charges laid against the grey haired scholar, who has seen a body of support build up around her cause in Scotland. Her situation even made it to the Scottish Parliament yesterday afternoon, when ministers said they would write to the Spanish government to express their views.
On the advice of her Glasgow-based lawyer, Aamer Anwar, himself serving as Rector of the University of Glasgow, she plans to hand herself in at St Leonard’s police station in the Capital at 10.30am this morning.
Advance notice was given to TV, radio, web and print media over not only the intense interest in the legal wrangle, but to maximise global publicity of her actions in the face of prison should she be returned home.
Mr Anwar said: “I have arranged with Police Scotland for the voluntary attendance of Professor Clara Ponsati at St Leonard’s police station. After we enter, Police Scotland will place my client under arrest and formally serve the European Arrest Warrant on her.
“I understand that Clara Ponsati faces charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds which relates to the organising of the referendum, which my client utterly refutes. My legal team is instructed by Professor Ponsati to robustly defend her against the Spanish attempts to extradite her.
“Clara views these charges as ‘political persecution’ and submits that her human rights and justice cannot 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 added: “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.
“Following her processing at the police office, Clara Ponsati will be transferred to Edinburgh Sheriff Court for the extradition hearing at 2pm before a sheriff. The hearing is expected to last between 30 minutes to an hour. We will apply for Clara Ponsati to be released on bail and a date for the full hearing will be set in several weeks time. Following tomorrow’s hearing a full statement will be issued outside the court.”
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was detained in Germany on Sunday.