Spain renews attempts to extradite former Catalan politicians

6th Nov 2019

Former Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, and former Catalan politician and scholar, Clara Ponsati, are fighting renewed Spanish extradition requests to Belgium and Scotland respectively. The renewed warrants were issued last month by the Spanish Supreme Court following the conviction of several other Catalan separatist leaders in the Spanish Supreme Court.

Mr Puigdemont is wanted in Spain on a charge of sedition for his role in the organisation of the banned independence referendum in 2017. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment. This is the third time that Mr Puigdemont has faced extradition proceedings. Following the reissue of the warrant, Mr Puigdemont surrendered to Belgian authorities on 25 October. Mr Puigdemont has stated his intention to fight the extradition request and said he has confidence in the “independence and professionalism” of the Belgian court.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo has been quoted in Spanish media as stating: “We would not understand why the Belgian state would not hand over those fleeing the Spanish judicial system.”

Carla Ponsati, an economics professor at St Andrews University who was education minister in the Catalan government, is also facing a charge of sedition in Spain over her role in the unsanctioned independence referendum. After the issue of a fresh European Arrest Warrant against her last month, she is expected to hand herself in to police in Edinburgh tomorrow, 7 November.

Professor Ponsati was previously arrested in March 2018 pursuant to a different extradition warrant but a Spanish Supreme Court judge subsequently dropped the request and the warrant was discharged.

The hearing on Thursday at the Edinburgh Sheriff Court will determine whether Professor Ponsati is released on bail. Aamer Anwar, Professor Ponsati’s lawyer, has indicated her intention to vigorously resist the extradition request. Her legal team will argue that the charges form part of a systematic attempt to criminalise the fight for independence by the Catalan people and that “there is no guarantee of a right to a fair trial in Spain, where most of the members of the Catalan government are already in prison or exile.”

Professor Ponsati’s extradition hearing is likely to take approximately eight to twelve weeks when it is heard next year.

Categories: Belgium, Scotland, Spain

Jasvinder Nakhwal
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