'Obliged but opposed': Sturgeon powerless to stop ex-Catalan ministers extradition to Spain
A former Catalan minister who fled to Scotland is to hand herself over to police, after a warrant was issued for her arrest, which the Scottish government opposes. It comes as the former Catalan president was detained in Germany.
A European arrest warrant was reactivated for Clara Ponsatí, as well as for former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and three other former ministers, by a Spanish judge on Friday. Scottish police confirmed that they are in possession of that warrant and that they have been contacted by Ponsatí’s solicitor to make arrangements for “Ms Ponsati to hand herself into police.”
We can confirm that we are in possession of a European arrest warrant for Clara Ponsati. We have made a number of enquiries to try to trace her and have now been contacted by her solicitor, who is making arrangements for Ms Ponsati to hand herself into police.— Police Scotland (@policescotland) March 25, 2018
Responding to those angered by the decision of police to enforce the arrest warrant Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said that while her government supports “the right of the people of Catalonia to determine their own future and that we strongly oppose the Spanish Government’s decision to seek the arrest and imprisonment of independence supporting politicians,” her government is “legally obliged” to comply with extradition requests.
Sturgeon added that, because the legal process allows individuals to oppose extradition in the courts, it is important that the government “says nothing to prejudice the integrity of that process.”
2/ Under Extradition Act 2003, Scottish Ministers have no power to intervene in the process and our police and courts are legally obliged to follow due process. This does not change @scotgov political view...— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) March 25, 2018
Scottish National Party MP Ian Blackford weighed in on the arrest controversy, saying that he will be seeking a meeting with the Spanish Ambassador to ask for “an explanation for the arrest warrant for Clara Ponsatí.”
“Spain needs to think carefully, arresting politicians in such a situation is not the right thing to do in a democracy,” he added.
I will be writing to the Spanish Ambassador in London, asking for a meeting and an explanation for the arrest warrant for Clara Ponsatí. Spain needs to think carefully, arresting politicians in such a situation is not the right thing to do in a democracy.— Ian Blackford (@IanBlackfordMP) March 25, 2018
Ponsatí, Puigdemont and the others are wanted on charges of rebellion and sedition, after leading a pro-independence referendum deemed illegal by the Spanish government late last year.
Puigdemont was detained earlier on Sunday, having crossed the German border and after narrowly evading arrest in Finland. A number of his colleagues have spent time in jail and are now facing trial. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Barcelona to protest Puidgemont's arrest Sunday.