Exiled Catalan leader Clara Ponsati was back in Court today battling extradition.
In the hearing at Edinburgh Sherrif Court her defence argued that the request to extradite her is ‘politically motivated’.
The former Catalan minister is fighting extradition to Spain for her part in an unsanctioned independence referendum in the region last October.
She is wanted by the Spanish authorities on charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds.
Ms Ponsati continues to refute the charges. In a statement after the hearing today, her Lawyer Aamer Anwar said,
“At today’s hearing we have lodged our draft legal submissions and intend to fight the extradition on many grounds, including the claim that this is a politically motivated prosecution.”
Her legal team have challenged the validity of the warrant and are fighting the case on the grounds that the charges are an abuse of Prof Ponsati’s human rights.
Under the rules of the European arrest warrant, a suspect can only be extradited if there are equivalent laws in both jurisdictions.
“To extradite Clara would be unjust, oppressive and incompatible with her human rights. Spain has failed to specify a single act of violence attributable to Clara Ponsati and the allegations she faces are a grotesque distortion of the truth.
“Spanish politicians talk of the rule of law, yet not one Spanish police officer has been prosecuted for their unprovoked attacks on defenceless Catalans at over 2000 polling stations. We intend to challenge in our courts the independence and impartiality of the Spanish judiciary.
After the hearing, Mr Anwar accused Spain of “abusing” the arrest warrant as a “tool of political oppression”.
“The courts can never be a solution to political negotiation,” he told Prof Ponsati’s supporters.
“Throughout Europe, Spain stands accused of abusing the Arrest Warrant as a tool of political repression. The courts can never be solution or alternative to political negotiation. Spain today faces its greatest crisis since dark days of General Franco.
“Without the unconditional release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of the European Arrest Warrants there will never be a resolution to the crisis.”
Courts have requested more information before a full hearing on 30th July for two weeks, with preliminary hearings on the 12th of June and the 5th of July.
A European Arrest Warrant was issued on Friday 23 March for the St Andrews professor and former Minister of Education in Catalonia.
Prof Ponsati was head of economics at the university when she became the region’s education minister, just a few months before the referendum.
If extradited and convicted of the charges Professor Clara Ponsati could face a sentence of up to 25 years and 8 years respectively, facing the real prospect of spending the rest of her natural life in prison.