Clara Ponsati vows to fight against extradition

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The former Catalan minister battling against extradition to Spain vowed to fight against the charge of violent rebellion raised against her by Madrid when she appeared at court in Edinburgh.

Two weeks in the summer were set aside for a formal extradition hearing for Professor Clara Ponsati’s at a preliminary hearing of her case at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati

In a statement outside the court, Professor Ponsati’s lawyer Aamar Anwar claimed the Spanish were guilty of “an abuse of process” and that she has been the victim of a politically motivated prosecution.

Mr Anwar said Professor Ponsati “utterly refutes” the charges saying she faced up to 33 years in prison if extradited, despite having never committed a criminal act in her life.

The hearing was held after Prof Ponsati voluntarily handed herself in to Scottish police last month. After an initial court appearance then she was released on bail.

The academic returned to Scotland earlier in March and resumed working at the University of St Andrews in Fife.

The charges against her are contained in an extradition warrant from the Spanish Supreme Court issued last month.

READ MORE: Clara Ponsati faces charges of ‘violence against police’

The case has attracted a huge amount of public support with more than £230,000 raised through an online crowdfunder set up to help her fight the extradition.

As a former member of the Catalan government, she she faces charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds relating to the independence referendum declared illegal by Madrid.

Mr Anwar said the European Arrest Warrant had been issued to prosecute the academic for her political opinions.

He said the crime of violent rebellion did not exist in the law of Scotland.

If extradited, he said his client would be prejudiced at trial or punished or detained or restricted in her personal liberty because of her political opinions.

He added that extradition was “oppressive” and incompatible with human rights.

“Finally we will submit Spain has systematically abused the process of extradition treaty to set out allegations which they know cannot amount to crimes in their courts,” Mr Anwar said.

“In conclusion we believe that this warrant is a politically motivated prosecution of Clara.

“She is accused of orchestrating violence, yet the warrant fails in over 19 pages to ever specify a single act of violence or incitement attributable to her.

Unsurprisingly there is no mention of the actions of several thousand Spanish police and 6000 State Security Forces who are accused of carrying out brutal unprovoked attacks on peaceful Catalans at over 2000 polling stations.

“In a civilised democracy Police Officers are the guardians of law and order, yet the Spanish police’s brutality on October 1st has been compared to the dark days of Francoism.

“To date not one single Spanish police officer has been arrested or prosecuted for their violent actions against a defenceless population and we submit the warrant is a grotesque distortion of the truth.”

He added: “Clara denies that public funds were used to finance the referendum and the warrant has failed to provide a scrap of evidence to back up the allegation.”

A two week hearing will being on July 30th.