Supreme Court issues national arrest warrant for pro-independence MEP Clara Ponsatí

Former exiled politician was detained upon return to Catalonia in March for role in independence push

Former minister Clara Ponsatí, leaving the court after giving her statement following her arrest on March 28, 2023
Former minister Clara Ponsatí, leaving the court after giving her statement following her arrest on March 28, 2023 / Eli Don
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

June 21, 2023 12:55 PM

June 21, 2023 07:47 PM

The Spanish Supreme Court has issued a new arrest warrant for pro-independence Junts MEP Clara Ponsatí if she returns to Spain.

Judge Pablo Llarena, in charge of the inquiry on all questions related to the organization of the 2017 independence referendum, filed the arrest warrant as Ponsatí failed to appear in the Supreme Court when she was summoned in April, some weeks after her unexpected return to Spain in late March.

Llarena said that the arrest warrant is just to hear the MEP's testimony, as she is charged with disobedience, but the judge already said that if the politician appears voluntarily in court, this warrant will be suspended.

Ponsatí was the education minister during the time of the self-determination vote.

The recent reform of the Spanish penal code and the Supreme Court's subsequent revision of the indictments of the referendum organizers who have not yet been tried, including former president Carles Puigdemont, means that Ponsatí no longer faces sedition or its replacement, aggravated public disorder, but only disobedience, which does not carry a prison sentence. 

Ponsatí's team did not say where she currently is. This week, there is no parliamentary activity in Brussels. The team has already announced they will appeal the decision.

Awaited on April 24 in Madrid

The MEP was expected to appear in court on April 24 in Madrid after being arrested in Barcelona, but she did not attend such a request, something Pablo Llarena ruled out that it was because of her parliamentary activity, which is what Ponsatí's team argued at the first time.

The judge said that her parliamentary activity was scheduled for the afternoon, and she could connect online. 

Llarena also used Ponsatí's words when referring that she had no business in Madrid, showing her desire to not appear in court.

Arrested in March

Ponsatí was arrested in Barcelona hours after returning to Catalonia after more than five years of living in Scotland and Belgium.

She returned despite there being an open warrant for her arrest for her role in the October 2017 independence referendum deemed illegal by Spain. As she is only charged with disobedience, a non-jailable offense, the Supreme Court said Ponsatí would not have been arrested had she appeared in court of her own accord. 

Ponsatí came to Barcelona by surprise on March 28 after crossing the Spanish-French border by car.

"I feel very good," she told the Catalan News Agency at the time. "I'm happy to have been able to set foot in Southern Catalonia again," she said, referring to the times she had traveled to Northern Catalonia, now in France.