Catalan separatist wants Spanish PM at extradition hearing

AFP
January 24, 2020

EDINBURGH: Catalan separatist Clara Ponsati, wanted in Spain for alleged sedition, requested Thursday at a Scottish court that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez testify at her extradition...

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EDINBURGH: Catalan separatist Clara Ponsati, wanted in Spain for alleged sedition, requested Thursday at a Scottish court that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez testify at her extradition hearing.

A preliminary hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court set the next court date for March 5, with May 11 as the provisional start date for the full extradition hearing.

Former Catalonia education minister Ponsati, 62, is wanted over the failed 2017 independence bid. The St Andrews University academic claims the case against her is politically motivated. "Clara is determined to take on the Spanish state and to expose injustice at its heart," said her lawyer Aamer Anwar, accusing Spain of misusing state power. He told AFP that the extradition hearing proper was expected to last around four weeks.

A provisional witness list was submitted bearing the names of high-profile Spanish figures he intends to cite to court. It included Sanchez, former prime minister Mariano Rajoy, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, far-right Vox party leader Santiago Abascal and Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena.

If all or even some of them were called to testify in Scotland, the attempt to extradite Ponsati would risk turning into a political trial on the Catalonia crisis. "We believe that if politicians have made statements about this extradition process and about independence in Catalonia, it is relevant to call them as witnesses," Anwar said.

However, the lawyer said the court would ultimately determine "which are speaking, which are more relevant". In her bid to avoid extradition, Ponsati will attempt to claim immunity as a member of the European Parliament.

When Britain leaves the European Union on January 31, new MEPs will be installed on February 1 from the remaining member states to fill empty seats. Following the May 2019 European Parliament elections, Ponsati is due to take one of the five seats redistributed to Spain, as an incoming MEP for the Together for Catalonia party. "The Spanish authorities ought to withdraw the warrant against Clara if and when she becomes immune," Anwar said outside court. "But given their past actions in relation to the others who have taken up their post, this is not likely to happen."



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