Defend Clara Ponsati from extradition to Spain

by CLARA PONSATI

Defend Clara Ponsati from extradition to Spain

by CLARA PONSATI
CLARA PONSATI
Clara an esteemed academic, previously a minister in the Catalan Government who is fighting extradition to Spain to stand trial for having promoted Catalonia Referendum for Independence.
Funded
on 28th March 2018
£282,300
pledged by 8957 people
CLARA PONSATI
Clara an esteemed academic, previously a minister in the Catalan Government who is fighting extradition to Spain to stand trial for having promoted Catalonia Referendum for Independence.

Latest: July 11, 2018

Hem llançat una última campanya urgent de crowdfunding...

Hem llançat una última campanya urgent de crowdfunding abans no comenci l’audiència de la Clara el dia 30 de juliol. Si us plau, visita i comparteix la nova pàgina...

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Visit my new CrowdJustice page: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendclara2/


Who am I? 

My name is Clara and I am a former Catalan government minister now in exile after the referendum of October 2017. 

I am a Professor at St. Andrews University and was previously the Head of the School of Economics and Finance before being appointed education minister by President Carles Puigdemont in July 2017 until October 2017. 

Following the declaration of Catalan Independence in October, I flew with our President Carles Puigdemont to Belgium. Following this Spain issued a European Arrest Warrant for us but this was later withdrawn and I returned to Scotland to my work at the University. I have never committed a criminal offence in my life.

Background to my case

Like other  Catalan politicians I promoted the peaceful democratic referendum in October 2017, yet now face charges including rebellion with violence against the unity of the Spanish nation. 

The Spanish government issued a European Arrest Warrant to extradite me from Scotland and they will use all the resources at their disposal to fight this case.

I need your urgent support to raise funds for my legal defence against this political prosecution and the systematic attempt to criminalise the desire for independence by more than 2 million voters in Catalonia.The offence I am charged with is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment.

It pains me to say this but there is no guarantee of due process in Spain and no guarantee of a right to a fair trial in a country where most members of the Catalan Government are already in prison or in exile. 

Judging the Spanish government by their past and present actions, if I return I believe I am likely to be subjected to degrading and inhumane treatment by the authorities.

...

Als  que vau defensar les urnes de l’1 d’Octubre, i que no us heu doblegat malgrat la repressió, les amenaces i  els abusos del govern espanyol, us vull donar les gràcies. A tants i tants que m’heu fet arribar el vostre suport i afecte us vull dir que no defallirem. Com els altres membres del govern i del parlament de de Catalunya a l’exili, ara haig de fer front a la persecució política del Tribunal Suprem espanyol, que pretén criminalitzar i perseguir la nostra conducta escrupolosament obedient al mandat democràtic. Us encoratjo a seguir esperançats i ferms en el combat pacífic per la llibertat, us demano que continueu el vostre  suport i solidaritat,  i també us demano que contribuïu a aquest fons per finançar les despeses jurídiques de la meva defensa. Tingueu la seguretat que la  veritat, la raó i la llibertat prevaldran per damunt de la mentida, la injustícia i l’autoritarisme, i que retornaré en llibertat a casa, a Catalunya.

...

How much am I raising and why? 

Over recent months the Spanish government stands accused of abusing the democratic process and the independence of its judiciary, whilst their Police with echoes of Francoism used brutal violent force to try and crush those who attempted to exercise their democratic right to vote.

Make no mistake I intend to oppose this extradition robustly with my lawyer Aamer Anwar and his legal team.

I am humbled by the tremendous support received from  thousands of Scots and people across Europe. I am grateful for the solidarity of Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government as well as politicians from across the political spectrum , but respect for the rule of law means that it is only right that your independent judiciary determines my fate.

It is always difficult to estimate the costs of a complex international extradition case, however I do know the costs of taking on the Spanish state will be considerable over the course of next several months.

Initially, I need to raise £40k to organise the preliminary defence and hearings, as well as the substantial preparations required to investigate, lodge evidence in support and cite experts and witnesses, as a result I know I will need to increase my target as the case continues. 

I can't do this alone  and hope you will contribute what you can to fight against this  abuse of power by the Spanish government.  Thank you so much for your support it has made me more resolute and determined to fight. The Spanish Government will never be able to crush the spirit of the Catalan people.



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Update 6

CLARA PONSATI

July 11, 2018

Hem llançat una última campanya urgent de crowdfunding...

Hem llançat una última campanya urgent de crowdfunding abans no comenci l’audiència de la Clara el dia 30 de juliol. Si us plau, visita i comparteix la nova pàgina web. www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendclara2


Estem patint un increment de les despeses, amb els conseqüents problemes econòmics que això comporta. A més, les Corts del Regne Unit normalment assumeixen que un Estat europeu com Espanya compleix l’estat de dret, i cal tenir present que les autoritats espanyoles disposen de recursos il·limitats.


És per això que patim la pressió d'haver de recaptar més de 220.000 euros en aquesta segona i última etapa. És possible que ja ens hagis fet alguna aportació, però cada euro/lliura compta. En cas que sobressin diners, els redistribuiríem entre els altres casos de persecució política que hi ha a Catalunya.


T'agrairem molt que visitis i comparteixis la nova pàgina web! www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendclara2/

Update 5

CLARA PONSATI

May 25, 2018

"A politically motivated prosecution"

**PLEASE SHARE THE LINK TO THE CASE PAGE ON TWITTER and FACEBOOK SO OTHERS CAN READ THIS UPDATE: www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendclara **


A European Arrest Warrant was issued for Clara on the 24th March. Following her arrest by Police Scotland on the 28th March, we were successful in Clara being released on Bail from the court and at the procedural hearing on the 12th April, two further hearings were fixed for the 15th May and the 5th July- with a full hearing to take place at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on the 30th July for two weeks. However, at the hearing on the 15th May it was agreed that as this was as highly complex case and a further preliminary hearing will also take place on the 13th June and the length hearing has now been doubled by a further two weeks from the 21st August until the 31st August.


WHAT CHARGES DOES CLARA FACE?

Clara faces charges of violent rebellion and the misappropriation of public funds (1,602,001.57 Euros to hold a referendum) which she utterly refutes. If extradited and convicted of the charges Professor Clara Ponsati, aged 61 could face a sentence of up to 25 years and 8 years consecutively, facing the real prospect of spending the rest of her natural life in prison.

Clara views the charges as ‘a politically motivated prosecution’ and we submit that her extradition would be unjust, oppressive and incompatible with her human rights. The arrest warrant accuses Clara of orchestrating violence at over 2259 polling booths, yet fails to specify a single act of violence attributable to her. Nor has any evidence been provided of corruption and her involvement in the misappropriation of public funds.

Unsurprisingly there is no mention of the actions of several thousand Spanish police and 6000 State Security Forces who are accused of carrying out brutal unprovoked attacks on peaceful Catalans.

Not one single Spanish police officer has been arrested or prosecuted for their violent actions against a defenceless population and we submit the warrant is a grotesque distortion of the truth. At court it will be submitted that the crime of rebellion does not constitute an offence in Scotland and that Spain is abusing the process of the European Arrest Warrant.

Whilst the success of the legal teams in the Belgium and German extradition cases are welcomed, their judicial decisions are not binding on our courts, their legal system is entirely different to that of Scotland and any allegations we make on the conduct of the Spanish state must be evidenced not just by reports but recognised legal experts.

The full hearing will commence on the 30th July at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, even if we were to win, the case could still be appealed by the Spanish to the High Court and then to the Supreme Court.


WHAT HAS THE MONEY BEEN USED FOR SO FAR?

Within 24 hours of Clara voluntarily handing herself into Scottish Police, nearly £200,000 was raised on Clara’s crowdfunding page. The money raised in such short space of time was historic and showed the breadth of support that Clara’s case has across Europe.

But we face an uphill struggle, as UK courts normally assume that a European country like Spain abides by the rule of law. In the recent Belgium cases the warrants were thrown out because they were not considered valid, however that means the Spanish can re-issue an ‘amended’ warrant.

We intend to expose the Spanish judicial conduct to international scrutiny and try to stop Clara’s extradition. However, the Spanish authorities have unlimited resources at their disposal, hence why we urgently require to continue raising funds. To date, we have already instructed several lawyers to work as part of Clara’s team which requires international cooperation.

In Scotland our firm has also instructed the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, the most senior Criminal Defence Lawyer in Scotland- Gordon Jackson QC and one of our most respected appeal court advocates- Claire Madison Mitchell, Scotland’s top law firm of Aamer Anwar & Co., We also have instructed a Catalan lawyer based in London to work as part of our team and recently met with an eminent QC from Matrix Chambers.

We are also working in partnership with the team of lawyers based in Belgium, Germany, Catalonia and Spain. This case requires extensive research, investigation as well as defence productions that will number thousands and thousands of pages, including the need for certified translations.  We urgently require to locate and instruct independent legal experts to produce evidence and reports, as well as travel.


HOW MUCH DO WE NEED TO RAISE?

It is always very difficult to estimate the cost of a case that has international implications and is of this magnitude, the length of the hearing has already doubled to potentially 4 weeks . Having raised almost £250,000 the pressure is now on us to raise a further £250,000 pounds. To put this in context, we remind supporters that we are taking on a foreign government and whether we win or lose the case, it can be appealed to the High Court followed by the Supreme Court.

We have tried to search for a comparison but the case is unique in UK’s legal history. If one remembers the case of Alastair Carmichael MP, the legal costs of the constituents who challenged his election victory after it was claimed he had lied about the leak of a civil service memo came to about £185,000, and the fundraising drive raised nearly £210,000.

In the recent case of the individual fined only £800 in a Sheriff Court for training his ‘Nazi Pug’ to give fascist salutes to horrific anti-semitic abuse has raised £190,971 to pursue an appeal. Meanwhile, we are taking on a Foreign Government and Clara faces up to 33 years in a Madrid prison if returned to Spain. We expect this to be a long legal fight and the Spanish Government have unlimited resources at their disposal.”

Update 4

CLARA PONSATI

April 12, 2018

Hearing Update - Help us to get to £400k!

At today’s hearing we advised the court that we intend to fight the extradition on many grounds including fundamentally that the Spanish are guilty of an abuse of process.

A full hearing will now take place on 30th July for two weeks, with preliminary hearings on the 15th May and the 5th July. 

We expect this to be a long legal fight, where we are expected to take on the might of the Spanish authorities with their unlimited resources. 

If each person who has contributed once did so again or spoke to a friend or family member we would reach the target within a day. 

See below a full description of our expected costs and fundraising targets.

Most important is to continue to get the word out: will you take a few minutes to share the link to the page on social media? www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendclara


WHAT IS THE  CURRENT STATUS OF THE CASE

On the 28th March we were successful in Clara being released on Bail from the Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Clara faces charges of violent rebellion and the misappropriation of public funds (1,602,001.57 Euros to hold a referendum) which she utterly refutes.


If extradited and convicted of the charges Professor Clara Ponsati could face a sentence of up to 25 years and 8 years respectively, facing the real prospect of spending the rest of her natural life in prison.


Clara views the charges as ‘a political motivated prosecution’ and submits that her extradition would be unjust, oppressive and incompatible with her human rights.


Clara challenges the validity of the arrest warrant which accuses her of orchestrating violence at over 2259 polling booths, yet fails to specify a single act of violence or incitement attributable to her. Nor has any evidence been provided of corruption and her involvement of the misappropriation of public funds to help organise the referendum.


At court we submitted that the warrant is not valid and should be dismissed. We also submitted that the crime of rebellion does not constitute an offence in Scotland. Clara believes that the Spanish authorities in their eagerness to criminalise the desire of the Catalan people for independence are abusing the process of the European Arrest Warrant.


You can rest assure that every penny will go towards fighting for a positive result and justice for Clara and the Catalan people. But that means the pressure remains on us to raise funds of at least 400 to 500 thousand pounds, hence why the target increases incrementally in batches.

 

WHAT HAS THE MONEY BEEN USED FOR SO FAR?

 

The money raised in such short space of time was historic and showed the huge support that Clara’s case has across Europe. But we are conscious that we face an uphill struggle, as our courts would normally assume that a country like Spain abides by the rule of law and would grant an extradition.

However, we intend to fight the Spanish Government every step of the way and expose their conduct to international scrutiny and try to stop Clara’s extradition.

 

We appreciate that the Spanish Government have unlimited resources at their disposal, hence why we urgently require to carry on raising funds. To date, we have already instructed several lawyers to work as part of Clara’s team which also requires international cooperation.

 

In Scotland the solicitors firm of Aamer Anwar has also instructed the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, the most senior Criminal Defence Lawyer  in Scotland- Gordon Jackson QC and the most respected appeal advocate Claire Madison Mitchell,

 

At the same time we require to work with the team of lawyers based in Belgium as well as Germany, Catalonia and Spain. This a case which requires extensive, research, investigation as well as defence productions that will number thousands and thousands of pages.

 

In the meantime we will require to locate and instruct independent legal experts for the actual case who will require to prepare reports and attend court. We will also require to pay for translations.

 

Again, please rest assured that any funds leftover after paying for Clara’s defence will go to support legal funds for Catalan political prisoners and others in exile. Many people are suffering in response to the repression of the Spanish government and we will do what we can to come to their aide. 


Clara thanks you from the bottom of her heart again - please continue to share this link for the CrowdJustice on all platforms of social media and let people know why this case matters so much.

Update 3

CLARA PONSATI

April 12, 2018

Statement on Extradition Hearing

Statement issued by solicitor Aamer Anwar

outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court 12th April 2018

following the Extradition Hearing at 11.20am

I have a statement to read on behalf of my client Professor Clara Ponsati

My client Clara Ponsati utterly refutes the charges. Clara an esteemed University Professor has never committed a criminal act in her life, but if extradited  she faces up to 33 years for peacefully promoting a referendum,

 

At today’s hearing we advised the court that we intend to fight the extradition on many grounds including fundamentally that the Spanish are guilty of an abuse of process.

 

A full hearing will now take place on 30th July for two weeks, with preliminary hearings on the 15th May and the 5th July.

 

In summary we will argue the following:-

 

1.     We seek to challenge the validity of the warrant as the facts do not show that any offence has been committed by Clara Ponsati.

2.     The crime of violent rebellion does not exist in the law of Scotland.

3.     We will argue that the warrant has been issued for the purpose of prosecuting Clara for her political opinions.

4.     If extradited Clara will be prejudiced at trial or punished or detained or restricted in her personal liberty because of her political opinions.

5.     We will argue that Clara’s extradition would be unjust and oppressive and incompatible with her human rights. which will includes her rights not to be subjected to pre-trial detention without time limit (Article 5) right to a fair trial (Article 6), freedom of expression (Article 10), freedom of assembly and association (Article 11).

6.     Finally we will submit Spain has systematically abused the process of extradition treaty to set out allegations which they know cannot amount to crimes in their courts.

In conclusion we believe that this warrant is a politically motivated prosecution of Clara.

She is accused of orchestrating violence, yet the warrant fails in over 19 pages to ever specify a single act of violence or incitement attributable to her.

Unsurprisingly there is no mention of the actions of several thousand Spanish police and 6000 State Security Forces who are accused of carrying out brutal unprovoked attacks on peaceful Catalans at over 2000 polling stations.

In a civilised democracy Police Officers are the guardians of law and order, yet the Spanish police’s brutality on October 1st has been compared to the dark days of Francoism.

To date not one single Spanish police officer has been arrested or prosecuted for their violent actions against a defenceless population and we submit the warrant is a grotesque distortion of the truth

Clara denies that public funds were used to finance the referendum and the warrant has failed to provide a scrap of evidence to back up the allegation.

Scotland has a proud history of protecting those who face a grave risk of injustice and oppression and we will argue that Spain is guilty of abusing the European Arrest Warrant which was never meant to be used as a tool of political repression.

We have begun work with lawyers in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Catalonia and the conduct of Spain will once again be subjected to the full glare of international scrutiny.

Clara neither expects nor wants politicians to interfere in Scotland’s robust and independent judicial process, but she is truly grateful for the support received from across Scotland, the UK, Europe, Catalonia as well as from the Scottish Government.

Clara has instructed us to fight for her liberty and recognises her fate is also linked to the struggle of the Catalan people for freedom.   Thank you

Update 2

CLARA PONSATI

April 4, 2018

Overwhelmed

Your support and contributions to my defence fund mean I am going to be able to robustly defend myself against the Spanish extradition request. 

 

I have been overwhelmed by the generosity, solidarity and support shown in Scotland, across the UK, in Catalonia and across Europe.

 

What you have given me is more than funds. You have given me the drive, determination and spirit to take on this fight. It may be long but I know that we, in the independence movement, are on the right side of history. And with you behind me, I am confident I will be able to defend myself.  

 

On Wednesday I was released on bail. A preliminary hearing is set for April 12th at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at 10.00am.


 

As you will have seen - we will require to continue to increase the target amount to cover any eventual costs in what is expected to be a long legal fight, where we are expected to take on the might of the Spanish authorities with their unlimited resources.

 

Please rest assured that any funds leftover after paying for my defence will go to support legal funds for Catalan political prisoners and others in exile . Many people are suffering in response to the repression of the Spanish government and we will do what we can to come to their aide. 

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart again - please continue to share the link for my CrowdJustice page on all platforms of social media  and let people know why this case matters so much: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendclara/

Update 1

CLARA PONSATI

March 28, 2018

Thank you for the inspirational support

What an extraordinary morning - £100k in under four hours. 

Thanks to all of you, Clara is going to be able to robustly defend herself against the Spanish extradition request. 

Clara has been overcome by the generosity and support shown in Scotland, across the UK, in Catalonia and across Europe.

She is currently attending a police station in Scotland and has said the outpouring of supportive messages and contributions has been truly inspirational to her and given her the drive, determination and spirit to take on this fight. 

We will be increasing the target amount to cover any eventual costs in what may well be a long legal fight. Rest assured any leftover funds will go to support others in the same situation as Clara. 

Thank you again - please continue to share and let people know why this case matters so much. 

Team Clara

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