The Catalan education minister, Clara Ponsatí, exiled in Brussels since the suppression of Catalonia's self-government and the application of article 155 by Spain, has left Belgium and returned to the Scottish university of Saint Andrews, where she previously practiced as professor of economics. Ponsatí, responsible for the indisputable success in negotiating the use of Catalan schools as voting centres for the independence referendum on 1st October last year, made this announcement personally after some days in Scotland, and by her action she thus broadens the diaspora of the exiled Catalan politicians arising from the Spanish state's repression. Ponsatí's move extends the resonance of the Catalan conflict to a third country —the United Kingdom— in addition to Belgium, where Catalan president Carles Puigdemont currently resides with three other ministers, and Switzerland, where the former CUP deputy Anna Gabriel has gone into exile.
The relocation of Ponsatí in Scotland, which has been expected for some weeks, once again exposes the inconsistency at international level of the case opened against Catalan pro-independence leaders by Spanish justice for rebellion and sedition. After the failure of the first European arrest warrant presented by Spanish justice in Brussels at the beginning of November and withdrawn some weeks later when it became clear that the Belgian courts would not accept it, there has been no other legal movement outside Spanish borders. Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena withdrew the European warrant in December and used a remarkably unexpected justification for not reactivating it against Puigdemont at the time of his journey to Copenhagen in January: saying that he did not set in motion because this was what Puigdemont wanted him to do. And, three weeks ago, Anna Gabriel announced her own exile to Switzerland and, even though the public prosecutor once more asked the judge to activate an arrest warrant, again, no action was taken.
The latest move by Catalan exile on the European chessboard is another important one. The United Kingdom has legislation that makes it difficult to find equivalents for the offences that have been formulated in Spain against Catalan pro-independence leaders - offences which the entire Catalan government has been accused of, without actions of rebellion and sedition ever having occurred. It is very probable, therefore, that Llarena will be extremely careful again in making any movement that might force British justice to make a pronouncement on the subject and will gain time, a better decision than risking a negative response. We will see what happens over the next few days. In any case, the general impression of a justice system that adopts decisions which have little to do with the law is not just a minor matter.
In this case, moreover, Llarena's action coincides with his decision to prohibit Jordi Sànchez, candidate for the Catalan presidency, from leaving Estremera prison for the parliamentary investiture session. All of this, set out in writing in a ruling by the judge which in many of its paragraphs has more political than judicial content. Especially the section that asserts that "the candidate has relapsed in his criminal commitment by joining the Together for Catalonia candidature", a statement which is situated at the very limit of the law, it not beyond it.
It continues to be disturbing that Spanish justice cannot find European compatibility for the crimes which it is trying to attribute to the Catalan leaders, and that in the meantime Junqueras, Sànchez, Forn and Cuixart remain deprived of freedom, unjustly held behind bars in a remand decision which does not seem to have an ending.