A European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued last Friday, 23 March, for the University of St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati.
Professor Ponsati is charged with rebellion and sedition by the Spanish government for her part in the Catalan independence referendum of October last year, as are several other members of Carles Puidgemont’s former cabinet, who fled to Brussels in the aftermath of the independence declaration.
Prior to taking up her position within the Catalan government, Professor Ponsati had been Director of the School of Economics and Finance at the University of St Andrews from January 2016 until July 2017, and since then had reverted to her previous role as professor, specialising in game theory.
A European Arrest Warrant had been issued towards the end of 2017, but was later retracted. It was reissued last week and since then Puidgemont, who had served as Catalan President until the referendum, has been detained in northern Germany.
Of the warrant, a University of St Andrews spokesman said: “We’re aware that a warrant has been issued, we’re staying in close touch with Clara and will continue to monitor developments very carefully.”
The 61-year-old professor is being represented by the University of Glasgow rector Aamer Anwar, who implied today that she will be handing herself over to Edinburgh police in ‘the next few days’.
Mr Anwar said: “My instructions are that this is a political persecution – a systematic attempt to criminalise the desire for independence.
“We believe that if she is sent back to Spain then she will suffer inhumane and degrading treatment and that the independence of the judiciary in Spain cannot be guaranteed.
“Quite frankly the charge of rebellion that Clara faces is a charge of rebellion with violence against the unity of the Spanish state, which means she faces up to 30 years in prison”.
A Facebook page, entitled St Andrews Students in Support of Clara Ponsati was set-up yesterday evening.
In a statement given to The Saint, a spokesperson said: “Students at the University of St Andrews are working together to support Professor Clara Ponsatí, director of the Economics and Finance department, who has been charged with rebellion by the Spanish state for her role in the Catalan independence movement.
“Professor Ponsatí served as minister of education in President Puigdemont cabinet when the Catalan parliament declared independence. A European Arrest Warrant was issued for her arrest last Friday.
“We believe that the crimes Professor Ponsatí has been accused of are politically motivated. Should she be extradited she is likely to suffer inhumane treatment, whilst the independence of the judiciary in Spain cannot be guaranteed.
“Under these grounds the British judiciary is legally and rightly able to reject the warrant for her arrest. This case is but the latest in a long line of attacks on democracy and human rights which the Spanish government has perpetrated against the Catalan people. Rejecting this warrant would demonstrate that the British state is committed to upholding the values of democracy, human rights, and self-determination.
“We urge everyone, including our University, to stand up for Professor Ponsatí as she fights this case and we will do what we can to support our Professor.
“If you would like to keep up to date with how we are supporting our Professor please like and share our Facebook page, St Andrews Students in Support of Clara Ponsati.”
The group are planning a demonstration in support of Professor Ponsati outside the students Union at 7pm on Monday 2 April, and have also launched a petition calling on Principal Sally Mapstone to stand by Professor Ponsati.