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Further extradition hearings for Catalan ministers in exile

Scottish judge postpones decision over Ponsatí until at least August, while Comín, Serret and Puig will testify in Belgian court on April 18

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12 April 2018 01:33 PM

by

ACN | Edinburgh, Brussels

Extradition processes for four members of the deposed Carles Puigdemont cabinet are moving forward. The Scottish court deciding on Clara Ponsatí’s situation decided to postpone its decision until at least August after a hearing on Thursday morning. The judge summoned her for May 15 and July 5 for further preliminary hearings, while the final extradition hearings will take place starting July 30, for up to 8 days. A decision regarding her case is not expected until after all these sessions come to an end.

Meanwhile, the three deposed ministers currently in Belgium will face court on April 18 at 9am. Lluís Puig, Meritxell Serret and Toni Comín will testify in the Chambre du Conseil, in Brussels.

The judges in Scotland and Belgium decided to keep the officials free during their extradition processes, ruling out pre-trial prison. Meanwhile, European arrest warrants issued by the Spanish Supreme Court loom over their heads. The deposed president Carles Puigdemont was also granted freedom, while German justice decides on his case. The general prosecutor in Schleswig-Holstein land has now to decide whether to ask for his extradition in the high court of the same region. While all five are free in three different countries, six more Catalan deposed members are in pre-trial jail in two Madrid prisons.

‘A grotesque distortion of the truth,’ claims Ponsatí’s lawyer

The deposed Catalan minister Clara Ponsatí appeared in court in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday morning. In statements to the press immediately following Ponsatí’s hearing, the defense for deposed education minister, Aamer Anwar, denounced the European Arrest Warrant as a “political persecution” of his client and “a grotesque distortion of the truth.” 

  • "We will argue that the warrant has been issued for the purpose of prosecuting Clara for her political opinions"

    Aamer Anwar · defense for Clara Ponsatí

“We do not agree with this extradition,” the lawyer stated, adding that they believe the Spanish authorities to be “abusing the process.” He defended that “no crime” was committed by his client, which him and his team aim to show. In detailing the main points of their strategy, he said that the crime of violent rebellion “does not exist” in the Scottish judiciary system. For his client to be extradited, he added, would be “unjust,” “oppressive,” and “incompatible with human rights.”

Anwar notes warrant does not deny police ‘brutality’

Regards the European Arrest Warrant itself, Anwar claimed it was only issued to “persecute Clara for her political ideas.” Anwar reminded the audience that his client is “accused of having planned violence,” but he points out that the document itself “does not specify any violent act or incitement to violence.” The attorney noted that “surprisingly,” the actions carried out by police on October 1 are not denied, which Anwar deemed as “brutal attacks” on “peaceful Catalans.”

“In a civilized democracy,” he continued, “officials are to guarantee order.” However, he added that the “police brutality” seen on October 1 “has been compared to the dark days of the Franco dictatorship.” He also noted that “not a single Spanish police officer” was arrested over what he calls “violent actions against a peaceful people.” 

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  • Clara Ponsatí and her lawyer, Aamer Anwar, outside Edinburgh court on April 12, 2018 (by Reuters)

  • Clara Ponsatí and her lawyer, Aamer Anwar, outside Edinburgh court on April 12, 2018 (by Reuters)