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UK apologizes for calling European arrest warrant for Catalan separatist “disproportionate”

Clara Ponsatí is facing charges of sedition for her involvement in the 2017 breakaway bid, but will not be extradited to Spain until more information is provided on her offense

Euroorden Ponsati
The ex-regional minister of education in Catalonia, Clara Ponsatí.

The British police have apologized to Spain for stating that the European arrest warrant (EAW) for Catalan separatist Clara Ponsatí was “disproportionate under UK law,” but will not execute the order until more information is provided.

Ponsatí, a former education minister in the Catalan regional government, fled to Scotland after the failed unilateral declaration of independence in October 2017, and is facing charges of sedition for her involvement in the breakaway bid.

Spain’s Supreme Court reactivated European arrest warrants for Ponsatí and two other former members of the Catalan government – Toni Comín and Lluís Puig – on Tuesday, a month after handing down a decision in the trial of 12 other leaders of the 2017 secession bid. Nine of the defendants received prison sentences for sedition and misuse of public funds.

Ponsatí fled to Scotland after the unilateral independence declaration of October 2017

British authorities consider that the crime of sedition under UK law can also be considered a crime against public order, which carries a less serious sentence.

In its first communication, Britain’s SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at the National Entries) office, which aims to ensure police cooperation between EU member states, said that the EAW had been reviewed by a specialist UK lawyer on behalf of the National Crime Agency and they had determined that it was “disproportionate under UK law.”

But Reuters reported that in a message on Twitter on Wednesday night, Spain’s caretaker Foreign Minister Josep Borrell explained that British police had “corrected their use of the term disproportionate” to refer to Ponsatí's extradition request.

In his message, Borrell shared a copy of the new communication from SIRENE which stated: “In our previous message our reply incorrectly stated that the warrant was disproportionate – it is not disproportionate, it is just currently lacking in essential information. We apologize for this miscommunication.”

In the document, British police request more information regarding the nature of the offense, the time and place at which it was committed, and the connection between the offense and Ponsatí.

The EAW will remain on hold until this “essential information" is provided.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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