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Catalan ex-minister Ponsati freed on bail after Scotland arrest

AFP  |  Edinburgh 

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati was released on bail when she appeared in court in Scotland on Thursday in connection with a Spanish extradition request for her to be tried with sedition.

The 62-year-old ex-minister handed herself in at a police station in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, before a scheduled hearing arising from her role in Catalonia's unilateral bid for independence.

Her lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court his client had been released on bail pending another hearing on December 12 and a full hearing in early 2020.

"Clara submits that she should not be extradited for a show trial in the (Spanish) Supreme Court, where she believes the only verdict would be one of guilt," he told reporters.

"We will submit that Clara's human rights cannot be guaranteed in the Spanish courts," he added.

"Sedition is the archaic offence invented in the 16th century (royal) courts of Europe by kings and queens to stop the backlash from people demanding their freedom. Sadly for Spain, in Scotland, like most democracies, the crime of sedition no longer exists."

A small group of demonstrators waving Catalan and Scottish independence flags and banners greeted her outside St Leonard's police station on Thursday morning.

Madrid first attempted to extradite the St Andrews University academic, a former education minister in the regional government of deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, last year.

But a Spanish Supreme Court judge abruptly dropped European and international arrest warrants for her and several other separatist leaders in July, 2018.

However, the same court on October 14 sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy prison terms over the failed 2017 independence bid and issued a fresh arrest warrant for Ponsati.

She has branded the charge "a prosecution with political motivations" while her legal team have called it an abuse of the extradition process.

Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has given her support to the nine Catalan politicians and activists jailed for their part in the 2017 referendum on independence.

"Any political system that leads to such a dreadful outcome needs urgent change," Sturgeon, who leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party, said last month.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 15 2019. 00:10 IST
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