ARRESTS ARE CAUSE FOR ‘DEEP FRUSTRATION AND ANGER’
SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP has written to the Spanish Ambassador in London requesting a meeting as a ‘matter of urgency’.
The letter follows the issuing of arrest warrants over the weekend for a number of Catalan politicians, including Clara Ponsati who was education minister in the Catalan government and a Professor at Saint Andrews.
The Spanish authorities are pursuing Catalan leaders for their role in holding an independence referendum. Ms Ponsati – along with other democratic politicians in Catalonia – is reported to be facing charges of rebellion with violence which could see her spend 30 years in jail.
In the letter Mr Blackford writes:
I write with deep frustration and anger at the recent developments regarding politicians from Catalonia. Over the weekend I watched with horror as European Arrest Warrants were issued, aggressively pursuing democratically elected Catalan politicians for holding an independence referendum last year.
Both during the referendum and since, the SNP has spoken out against the use of force, efforts to prevent the ballot taking place, and the arrest and imprisonment of elected politicians.
We believe that the political dispute over the future direction of Catalonia is one that must be handled democratically, and that following the recent elections in Spain, instigated by the Spanish government, it is incumbent on the Spanish government to negotiate with those newly elected parliamentarians, including those currently under threat of arrest.
I have very real concerns that the current pre-trial imprisonment and pursuit of recently elected politicians, preventing them from participating in the formation of a new government goes against the principle of, democracy, of respect for human rights and risks people’s basic civil liberties.
It is deeply disappointing that as part of this pursuit of pro-Catalan independence politicians a former Minister, who is a respected academic in Scotland, now faces charges of rebellion – a charge which is not recognised in Scots law.
The independent legal process includes the right of any individual subject to proceedings under the Extradition Act 2003 to oppose their extradition in the courts and it is vital that the integrity of this process is protected.
I request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience and as a matter of urgency to discuss these matters further.