Defiant Catalan academic Ponsati granted bail in fight to avoid Spanish extradition

Mar 29, 2018, 01:42
Defiant Catalan academic Ponsati granted bail in fight to avoid Spanish extradition

Professor Ponsati, is being sought by the authorities in Madrid on charges of "violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds" over her role in Catalonia's controversial independence referendum past year.

Clara Ponsati, Catalonia's former education chief and now a professor at the University of St Andrews, returned to Scotland in March after fleeing Spain with Mr Puigdemont.

Prof Ponsati was granted bail at the hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Mr Anwar said: "She does not believe that the Spanish courts can guarantee independence, human rights or justice".

Her solicitor Mr Anwar said on Tuesday: '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.

Spain's Supreme Court said it will prosecute 13 leading separatist figures for "rebellion", a crime that carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison.

Shortly after, Puigdemont was detained in Germany after he crossed the border with Denmark on his way from Finland to Belgium.

Following the hearing, it was announced that Ponsati would be released on bail, with a preliminary hearing on her case set for 12 April, and a full hearing to take place on 18 April.

Prof Ponsati had been working as the director of the School of Economics and Finance at the University of St Andrews since January 2016, before being appointed as the Catalan government's education minister in July of past year.

"Clara remains defiant and resolute and believes that the Spanish Government will never be able to crush the spirit of the Catalan people". "Clara accepts her fate now lies in the hands of the Scottish justice system".

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she can not intervene in an independent legal extradition process.

He read a statement which also thanked Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, herself a supporter of independence for Scotland from the United Kingdom, saying Scotland had been "a true friend to Catalonia in her darkest hours".

She fled later that month with Puigdemont and three other former ministers to Brussels, after Spain dismissed the Catalan executive and imposed direct rule.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said she supports the right of the Catalan people to determine their own future, and has criticised the Spanish government's decision to arrest and imprison pro-independence Catalan politicians.

Ponsati then returned to the University of St Andrews, northeast of Edinburgh, where she had formerly worked, and is a professor in the school of economics and finance.

On Monday, there were protests outside the Spanish consulate in Edinburgh to demonstrate support for Ms Ponsati.

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