Scottish court closes extradition case of exiled Catalan leader

Court says it no longer has jurisdiction over Clara Ponsatí, who now resides in Belgium as a member of the EU parliament

MEP Clara Ponsatí (by Nazaret Romero)
MEP Clara Ponsatí (by Nazaret Romero) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 26, 2021 02:35 PM

A Scottish court has closed the extradition case of Clara Ponsatí, an exiled Catalan politician wanted in Spain for her role in the failed independence push, arguing that it no longer has jurisdiction over the case since she now resides in Belgium.

"This morning our legal team appeared at court on Clara Ponsatí's behalf and it was agreed that she should be discharged as a requested person and these extradition court proceedings are now finally at an end in Scotland," lawyer Aamer Anwar tweeted on Thursday. 

As a former minister of the Catalan government, Ponsatí faces sedition charges for contributing to the unauthorized referendum in the fall of 2017, when over two million people voted to create an independent republic despite Spain's violent crackdown.

Fearing Spain's retaliation in the wake of a failed declaration of independence, Ponsatí fled to Scotland. She worked as an academic at St Andrew's University.

Nine pro-independence leaders who instead opted to stay in Catalonia were convicted of sedition and spent more than three years behind bars before being pardoned by the Spanish government last June.

While Spain's Supreme Court has repeatedly tried to extradite Ponsatí and other exiled politicians to try them, its efforts have all been unsuccessful so far.

In 2020, Ponsatí moved to Belgium, where former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and other exiled colleagues reside, to serve as a member of the European Parliament for the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya party.

"Clara wishes to thank the many people in Scotland as well as those across Europe, who have given her so much love, support, and solidarity through difficult times and hopes that one day she can return from political exile to her beloved Catalonia," Anwar said on Ponsatí's behalf.

Political immunity lifted

Last March, a majority of lawmakers in the European Parliament voted to strip Puigdemont, Ponsatí, and fellow MEP Toni Comín of their political immunity, as part of Spain's latest attempt to extradite them.

While they recovered their parliamentary privileges in June following a decision by an EU court, a month later they were revoked again by the European General Court.

Puigdemont and his colleagues said that the General Court ruling proved that Spain's European Arrest Warrants are currently suspended.