Ex-Catalan minister Clara Ponsatí to present herself for arrest

Image caption,
Prof Ponsatí returned to St Andrews University after fleeing Spain

A former Catalan minister who fled Spain to return to Scotland is preparing to hand herself in to police.

A European arrest warrant was issued for Clara Ponsatí on Friday.

Police Scotland confirmed they were in possession of the warrant and had attempted to trace the former Catalan education minister on Sunday.

After being contacted by her solicitor, police said arrangements were being made for Ms Ponsatí to hand herself in to police.

Clara Ponsatí was serving in the Catalan government when it declared independence from Spain in October.

She fled to Brussels with former leader Carles Puigdemont, then returned to the University of St Andrews where she had previously worked.

A Spanish judge reactivated warrants for Mr Puigdemont, Ms Ponsatí and three other former ministers on Friday.

Mr Puigdemont has now been detained in Germany, his lawyer confirmed on Sunday.

Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she supported the right of the Catalan people to determine their own future but the Scottish authorities were obliged to follow due process and ministers were not permitted to intervene.

She added: "We strongly oppose the Spanish government's decision to seek the arrest and imprisonment of independence supporting politicians.

"The fact that our justice system is legally obliged to follow due process in the determination of extradition requests does not change those views."

Spain's central government took direct control of Catalonia and sacked officials, following the region's banned independence referendum in October.

Image source, AFP/Getty Images
Image caption,
Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and Prof Ponsatí in Brussels at the start of February

Ms Ponsatí escaped to Belgium from Spain along with Mr Puigdemont and three of his former ministers days after the independence declaration.

International arrest warrants were issued for all five but they were later withdrawn.

Ms Ponsatí later returned to St Andrews University where she had been director of the school of economics and finance before taking up her role as Catalan education minister last summer.

A spokesman for St Andrews said: '"We're aware that a warrant has been issued, we're staying in close touch with Clara and will continue to monitor developments very carefully."

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