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Former Catalan minister sought on fresh arrest warrant

A fresh European Arrest Warrant has been issued for University Professor Clara Ponsati.

Clara Ponsati: Fresh arrest warrant for Catalan minister.
Clara Ponsati: Fresh arrest warrant for Catalan minister.

A fresh European Arrest Warrant has been issued for former Catalan politician and University of St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati.

The academic fought extradition to Spain last year as authorities in Madrid sought her on charges of rebellion and misappropriation of public funds over her role in Catalonia’s unsanctioned independence referendum in 2017.

She denies the charges.

The arrest warrant was later withdrawn but Police Scotland confirmed on Tuesday Ms Ponsati is the subject of a fresh warrant.

The ex-Catalan education minister is expected to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday.

A police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we are in possession of a European Arrest Warrant for Clara Ponsati.

“We have now been in contact with her solicitor, who is making arrangements for her to hand herself in to police.”

Economics professor Ms Ponsati was arrested in March 2018 and a four-week extradition hearing was expected to be heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last July.

But a Spanish Supreme Court judge dropped the extradition request and the warrant was formally discharged.

Speaking then, she said she was “determined to keep fighting for the freedom of all political prisoners, for civil rights in Catalonia and Spain and for the Republic of Catalonia”.

In a statement on her behalf, extradition lawyer Aamer Anwar said: “This warrant is viewed as a systematic attempt to criminalise the fight for independence by over two million Catalan voters.

“It will be argued by Clara’s legal team that there is no guarantee of a right to a fair trial in Spain, where most members of the Catalan Government are already in prison or in exile.

“Clara believes the charge to be part of ‘a political motivated prosecution’ and submits her extradition would be unjust and incompatible with her human rights.

“The extradition will be opposed robustly and it is Clara’s intent to put on trial the Spanish justice system as well as its politicians who have interfered with due process.”

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