Deposed minister leaves Belgium for Scotland
Member of deposed Puigdemont’s cabinet, Clara Ponsatí, goes back to work at University of St Andrews
The Catalan deposed education minister, Clara Ponsatí, has left Brussels for Scotland to go back to work as a professor at the University of St Andrews. She announced it on Twitter, emphasizing that she is “enjoying” her “freedom of movement as a European citizen.” Ponsatí has been in Belgium for four and a half months, following the declaration of independence on October 27, 2017.
She has an arrest warrant hanging over her head in Spain, where she risks to be jailed in case she returns to Catalonia. Yet following the Spanish Supreme Court’s withdrawal of a European arrest warrant last December, all five deposed officials until now in Belgium have freedom of movement within the EU.
Ponsatí has been a professor at the University of St Andrews since January 2016. Her academic career as economics professor goes back to the 1980s, with experiences in Catalan universities, as well as the Georgetown University as visiting professor, among others. She interrupted her career in July 2017, when she was appointed Catalan education minister. She was in the post for three and a half months until deposed in late October. Yet she is charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, which might carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
European arrest warrant
The Spanish Supreme Court might consider reissuing now a European arrest warrant against her. After the Belgian prosecutor rejected accepting all the charges the Spanish Court had set for the Catalan deposed ministers, the judge in Madrid could consider activating again the same mechanism for the British justice to decide on Ponsatí’s extradition. Yet it is not likely, as the Supreme Court did not issue the arrest warrant when Carles Puigdemont travelled to Denmark last January nor when far-left CUP former MP Anna Gabriel moved to Switzerland last month, failing to attend a hearing before the same magistrate.
With Ponsatí’s move, three European countries are now hosting pro-independence officials charged by Spanish justice. The deposed president Carles Puigdemont and three of his ministers (Lluís Puig, Toni Comín and Meritxell Serret) are still in Belgium, while former CUP MP Anna Gabriel is in Switzerland and Clara Ponsatí in the United Kingdom.