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Catalan ex-minister surrenders to police in Scotland, parliament supports Puigdemont as leader

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Europe   Clara Ponsati

Former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati, who is wanted by Spain for her role in last year's independence bid, surrendered to Scottish police Wednesday to face arrest under a European warrant.

Lawyers for Ponsati, a professor at the University of St Andrews, said they will "robustly" reject charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds for helping to organise last year's independence referendum in Catalonia, which the government in Madrid deemed illegal.

She has received support from members of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs the devolved government in Edinburgh, which has condemned arrest warrants issued for the Catalan politicians.

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she cannot intervene in an independent legal extradition process.

Catalonia’s parliament said on Wednesday it supported detained ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s right to lead the region again. The former leader is awaiting a German court ruling on extraditing him to Spain for directing a banned independence campaign.

His arrest in Germany on Sunday threatens to worsen the crisis that flared last year when Catalonia unilaterally declared independence. Madrid then dismissed Puigdemont’s government and impose direct rule.

Puigdemont’s arrest, after crossing into Germany from Denmark, triggered demonstrations on Barcelona’s streets on Sunday and clashes with riot police, Reuters said. On Tuesday, protesters blockaded several motorways across Catalonia.


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