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Spain reactivates arrest warrants for 3 Catalan separatists

Spain’s Supreme Court has reactivated a European arrest warrant for three Catalan leaders who fled Spain after taking part in a failed independence bid in 2017.

The warrants target Lluis Puig and Toni Comin, who live in self-imposed exile in Belgium, and Clara Ponsati, who lives in Scotland.

Comin and Ponsati face a charge of sedition, similar to the nine independence leaders sentenced in October to up to 13 years in prison, while Comin also faces a charge of misuse of public funds, as does Puig, according to court documents.

The sentencing set off weeks of protests, at times violent, that rocked the Catalan regional capital, Barcelona. Polls suggest the unrest has boosted right-wing parties as the country heads into its fourth election in as many years.

The court said the sentencing of the Catalan leaders had strengthened the argument underpinning the warrants.

“The evidence of criminality… not only persists but now has a verdict that serves as a reinforcement,” it said Tuesday.

The new warrants drew reaction from Catalan regional president Quim Torra, who said they were issued by “a state in full authoritarian drift and consumed by the spirit of revenge.”

Lawyer Aamer Anwar said his client, Ponsati, was determined to fight the warrant, but planned to appear at an Edinburgh police office on Thursday where she expected to be arrested.

“It will be argued by Clara’s legal team that there is no guarantee of a right to a fair trial in Spain, where most members of the Catalan government are already in prison or in exile,” he said in a statement.