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Wanted ex-Catalan Minister surrenders in Scotland


IANS Edinburgh (UK)
A Catalan politician and academic wanted by Spain for her alleged role in a secessionist referendum ruled illegal by the judiciary handed herself to Scottish police on Wednesday as authorities began to deliberate over whether to execute an extradition order lodged by Madrid.
Clara Ponsati, former regional Education Minister in Catalonia and Professor of Economics at the prestigious St. Andrews University in Scotland, arrived at St. Leonard's police station accompanied by her lawyer Aamer Anwar, Efe news reported.
"After we enter the police station, my client will be formally placed under arrest. The European arrest warrant will then be served upon and Ponsati will be transferred to Edinburgh Sheriff Court where she will appear from custody," said Anwar, who is also the rector at the University of Glasgow.
"The Spanish authorities wish to extradite Ponsati on charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds for helping to organise the referendum," he said.
"She does not believe that the Spanish Courts can guarantee independence, human rights or justice. Ponsati remains defiant, resolute and is determined to fight back," he added.
Ponsati was a close associate of Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan President, who is currently held in a German jail awaiting a final decision on his extradition back to Spain.
Puigdemont could face the same fate as several former Catalan political figureheads currently retained in pre-trial detention on the same potential charges.
The former Education Chief, who could face decades in prison, travelled back to Scotland via Brussels to avoid a Spanish arrest warrant issued in relation to her alleged role in the independence referendum in October.
The Principal of St. Andrews University, Professor Sally Mapstone, criticised the action taken by the Spanish judiciary as "an attack on free speech".
Ponsati was due to retake her economic research post at the University.
The Scottish government, led by separatist Nicola Sturgeon, said it would raise the issue of the European arrest warrant with the European Commission.
Shortly before she entered the police station, a crowdfunding initiative in support of Ponsati raised over $1,00,000 in a matter of hours.

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First Published: Mar 28 2018 | 7:08 PM IST

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