Posted on March 26th, 2018
by Dan Iron
This weekend Spain has issued European Arrest Warrants (EAW) for Catalan politicians Carles Puigdemont and Clara Ponsatí. This obliges the authority receiving the warrant to detain and extradite the named person to the issuing authority, in this case Spain. However it is possible that the extradition can be denied.
The EAW for Carles Puigdemont has been issued to Germany and he is now in custody there. The EAW for Clara Ponsatí has been issued to the UK as she is currently working at St Andrews university. Top Scots lawyer Aamer Anwar has been instructed to defend Clara Ponsatí.
I sincerely hope that Clara Ponsatí is not extradited from Scotland as this will be a travesty of justice as the EAW has been issued for clearly political reasons.
However it is important to note that Scottish politicians have no power to influence the judiciary in its decision. This is ironic as the Spanish judiciary is obviously not independent of their government.
There are several observations to make here. Firstly the Act of Parliament under which the decision to extradite or not will be made is an Act of the UK Parliament. Secondly it is important to note that a previous EAW was issued to Belgium in respect of Carles Puigdemont. After a judicial hearing he was released under the double criminality rule as the charge of rebellion was not an offence under Belgian law.
It is a natural reaction in this case to rail against the EU and ask why it is not doing more to counteract the overt injustice of the Spanish state. However it is proof that the EU is not an overarching super-state and that EU members are indeed still sovereign. Scotland, if it were to become an independent nation in the EU, would be able to formulate its own extradition law and ensure that people like Professor Ponsatí would not be extradited by an independent Scotland.
Those of us in Scotland who believe in independence should not lose sight of the fact that, whatever we think of the EU as an institution, Westminster remains the far bigger threat to Scotland’s prosperity and welfare.
We should await the result of Professor Ponsatí’s hearing. If the decision goes against her we, the people of Scotland, will have to do some serious thinking.
We simply cannot allow her to be handed over to the Spanish state.