Clara Ponsatí has appeared once again in the Edinburgh Sheriff Court this Thursday in a hearing that, although purely procedural, does set the dates for what may be a key period in the former Catalan government minister's efforts to continue both the Catalan political struggle and her own particular battle. The hearing on Spain's demand for her extradition has been set down to begin on May 11th, with the expectation that it will take three to four weeks. Two months earlier, on March 5th, there will be another procedural appearance. But before that, Ponsatí may take up her position as a new Member of the European Parliament.
.@ClaraPonsati is out of court. Next hearing is Thu 5 March at 10am, maybe continuing into 6th. Then the full thing starts on Mon 11 May and could last for up to four weeks. Ànims, Clara! #llibertatpresesipresospoliticsiexiliats pic.twitter.com/vZiW0SYXmC— Catalan Defence Committee Glasgow (@CDC_Glasgow) January 23, 2020
In today's hearing, Ponsati's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, told judge Nigel Ross that his client "has not been treated fairly by the Spanish authorities" and once again recalled that Spain has "abused the European Arrest Warrants and underestimated European justice". Ponsatí is accused of sedition arising from her role as Catalan education minister at the time of the 2017 independence referendum.
The trial scheduled for May 11th could, as Ponsatí's defence pointed out, be affected by the possibility that she will become an MEP after the UK's departure from the European Union on January 31st. Brexit will create empty seats in the European Parliament, which are to be filled by proportionate numbers of new representatives from each of the other 27 EU countries.
Accordingly, Spain's Central Electoral Commission has this Thursday included Clara Ponsatí on the list of five Spanish politicians who are next in line, through the number of votes they won in last year's elections, to take up the country's additional seats in the European Parliament. Due to the EU Court of Justice's ruling last December on the case of Oriol Junqueras, Ponsatí will be able to take up her place as an MEP, just as Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín have done, without completing the normal formalities which Spain demands. The Spanish state's five new MEPs, including Ponsatí, have just been called to Madrid to pledge allegiance to the Constitution on January 28th. The exiled Catalan politician is unlikely to attend.
Today, however, Ponsatí had her Scottish legal process in mind and, buffeted by the wind in Edinburgh, sent a message on her current situation, asking for support - including financial.
‘It was submitted the right to self-determination is protected by article 1 UN charter & article 1 of 1966 UN Covenant on Human Rights.The actions of @ClaraPonsati did not constitute a criminal offence’ FULL EXTRADITION HEARING 11th MAY🎗Petició urgent👇🏽 https://t.co/5UH3krTOcP pic.twitter.com/NL7O568Njw— Aamer Anwar🎗✊🏽 (@AamerAnwar) January 23, 2020
If Ponsatí's extradition trial is definitively annulled and she gains parliamentary immunity as an MEP, it will be another blow for Spanish justice. Ponsatí has already been allowed by the Scottish court to retain her passport, contrary to the wishes of Spanish justice.