In Brief

St Andrews professor to surrender to police over role in Catalan independence referendum

Ex-education minister Clara Ponsati will fight calls for extradition from Spanish government

A Catalan professor who teaches economics at the University of St Andrews in Scotland is preparing to hand herself in to Scottish police over her role in the Catalan independence referendum.

Clara Ponsati, 61, a former minister in the pro-independence Catalan government led by deposed leader Carles Puigdemont, fled to Belgium with Puigdemont and other members of his cabinet days after an independence declaration in October was deemed illegal by the Spanish government.

Last week, a European Arrest Warrant was issued for 25 Catalan politicians, including Ponsati, on charges of sedition and rebellion issued by the Spanish supreme court. 

Puigdemont was detained in Germany on Sunday while travelling by car from Finland to Belgium.

Ponsati is expected to turn herself into police in the next few days. She will appear in a Scottish court, which does not recognise the sedition as an offence, The Guardian reports.

Scottish newspaper The National reports that she fears she will be “degraded and treated inhumanely” if a Scottish court sends her back to Spain.

Solicitor Aamer Anwar, who is representing Ponsati, says the charges are “political” and a “systematic attempt to criminalise the desire for independence”.

“We will submit there are no guarantees of due process in Spain, of a right to a fair trial in a country where most members of the Catalan government are already in prison or in exile,” he said.

“If returned, we submit she will be subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment by the Spanish authorities.”

The National says there is immense pressure on Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to prevent any extradition attempts by the Spanish government.

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