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Catalan separatist MEP Clara Ponsatí freed after arrest in Spain – POLITICO

Clara Ponsatí, a Catalan separatist and MEP, was released after being detained for several hours in Barcelona on Tuesday, after years of escaping an arrest warrant from Spain’s Supreme Court for a failed independence campaign.

Ponsatí, 66, was education minister in the Catalan government when the region declared independence from Spain following a 2017 referendum for secession, which Spanish judges ruled illegal. She has since lived in exile in Scotland and Belgium, after Spain’s highest court issued an arrest warrant charging her with the crime of disobedience for her role in organizing the referendum.

She was arrested by the Autonomous Police of Catalonia, the Mossos d’Esquadra, while wearing her European Parliament badge, after visiting Spain for the first time since fleeing the country. MEP tweeted that she was “illegally” arrested in Barcelona. The Supreme Court had withdrawn the charge of “sedition” which carried a prison sentence, according to the Spanish news agency EFE, but she is still accused of “disobedience”.

Ponsatí immediately challenged the legality of his arrest. Local media later reported that she had been released, but was told to attend a court hearing on April 24.

“I am an MEP and I have immunity throughout the European Union, but it is only in Spain that it is not recognized,” she told a conference of press before his arrest, EFE reported.

Ponsatí, who worked as a professor of economics and finance at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland after leaving Spain, became an MEP in 2020 and does not belong to any political group in the European Parliament. She is part of the Together for Catalonia party, created by fellow exiled MEP Carles Puigdemont, who led the Catalan regional government at the time of the referendum.

A spokeswoman for European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said she had received a request to defend Ponsati’s immunity. “We are reviewing all legal issues surrounding this case. Any possible course of action will be guided only by this consideration and nothing else,” the spokesperson said.

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