The former Catalan government minister Clara Ponsati has vowed to fight her “politically motivated” extradition from Scotland, following her release on bail by Edinburgh sheriff court after handing herself in to the police.
The 62-year-old University of St Andrews professor, who is wanted in Spain over her role in the Catalan independence movement, insisted on Thursday she should not be extradited to face a “show trial”, where she believes a guilty verdict would be inevitable.
The highly regarded head of the university’s economics school returned to Scotland via Belgium when she fled from Spain along with the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and three other members of his team after their government was forced from office in November 2017.
Ponsatí, who denies all wrongdoing, faces a single charge of sedition, relating to her part in organising the independence referendum on 1 October 2017, which the Spanish state deemed illegal, while she was the education minister in the Puigdemont administration.
Her lawyer, Aamer Anwar, claimed the European arrest warrant served by the Spanish government was “full of contradictions and mistakes”, while offering no substantial evidence of the alleged crime.
Anwar said the Spanish authorities had repeatedly abused the European arrest warrant’s powers, adding: “We are instructed by Clara to robustly defend her from what she describes as ‘judicially motivated revenge’. Clara wishes to put on notice all those Spanish politicians who have abused the rule of law that they will also be exposed to scrutiny in her defence. Clara trusts that her fate now lies in the hands of the Scottish justice system which she believes to be impartial, robust and independent.”
Spain abandoned a previous attempt to extradite Ponsatí from Scotland in July 2018.
Since then, the Spanish supreme court has jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders for more than 100 years between them, leading to violent clashes between police and protesters in Barcelona last month.
Ponsatí’s next court appearance has been scheduled for 12 December in Edinburgh and a full hearing is likely to take place in the spring of 2020.