Clara Ponsati: ex-Catalan minister says Spanish extradition charges are 'grotesque'

Former Catalan minister to oppose extradition from Scotland

Former Catalan minister to oppose extradition from Scotland

The former head of education policy in Puigdemont's government, Ponsati is an economics professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Ponsati, a former Catalan education minister who is now a professor at Scotland's University of St Andrews, is one of the Catalan leaders being sought by the Spanish courts for organising a referendum on independence in October previous year that was deemed illegal under Spanish law.

Held in front of Sheriff Nigel Ross at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, the hearing lasted less than 10 minutes and saw the academic granted bail and instructed to surrender her passport.

She spoke briefly to confirm her name.

Professor Ponsati voluntarily attended a police station in Edinburgh on Wednesday where she was arrested, before attending an extradition hearing.

Her lawyer Aamer Anwar said she will provide a "robust" legal challenge to the charges, which he said amount to political persecution.

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"We strongly oppose the Spanish government's decision to seek the arrest and imprisonment of independence supporting politicians", Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose nationalist party runs the government in Edinburgh, said in a statement.

Ms Ponsati's solicitor Aamer Anwar said: "Clara remains defiant, resolute and is determined to fight back".

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She said investigators, who have opened a criminal investigation into the blaze , were looking into other possible violations. The cause of the blaze is not yet known but authorities have launched an investigation.

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

Addressing the day's events, Anwar said: "Clara is pleased that bail was granted by the Scottish courts, and grateful for the respect and the dignity she was given by Police Scotland and the Scottish court service".

"Clara respects the fact her fate now lies in the hands of Scotland's independent judicial system".

Asked what she felt the Scottish Government's next step should be if extradition were to take place, White said: "Their next step, I would assume, would be once again to contact the Spanish Government, to contact the European Union, and make their position very, very clear - that they do not uphold this situation where Clara has to be extradited".

Ponsati was a minister in the Catalan government when it declared independence from the rest of Spain following a referendum in October.

Puigdemont was arrested by German police on Sunday.

A Spanish court last week reactivated a European arrest warrant against Puigdemont on charges of sedition and rebellion.

The University of St Andrews said it was deeply concerned about Ponsati's potential extradition.

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