Catalonia president hails Indyref as best citizen rights’ example

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Catalan president Quim Torra has said Catalonia could learn from Nicola Sturgeon’s drive for a second independence referendum when he made his first visit to Scotland.

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The Catalan president was also in Scotland to give his support for Clara Ponsati, a former minister from the region facing extradition for her involvement in the controversial Catalan independence referendum last year.

Professor Clara Ponsati. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Professor Clara Ponsati. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Professor Ponsati, an academic at St Andrews University, is being sought by the Spanish authorities on charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of funds.

She has always denied the charges against her. If convicted she could receive a jail term of up to 33 years. Yesterday her lawyer Aamar Anwar warned that if Professor Ponsati ended up in a Spanish jail she could be killed by the authorities or fellow prisoners.

Before heading to Bute House, Mr Torra said this was the first time a Catalan president had met the First Minister of Scotland. He said: “This is the starting point for a relationship between the two nations we want to continue in the future, two nations with a same goal - gaining independence for our countries.

“I think there is a long way to work together. Maybe we can learn a lot about how the Scottish government is managing the idea of the second referendum. Maybe we can discuss with the Scottish government about how they can give us support, give us initiatives for projects of how to resolve this political situation  we have now in Catalonia.”

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, left, welcomes Catalan regional president Quim Torra on his arrival for talks at the Moncloa palace in Madrid. Picture: AP Photo/Andrea Comas

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, left, welcomes Catalan regional president Quim Torra on his arrival for talks at the Moncloa palace in Madrid. Picture: AP Photo/Andrea Comas

Mr Torra thanked the First Minister for the support shown to Prof Ponsati.

Her case will be heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court this summer. The Scottish Government has stressed that it will not intervene in the judicial process, although Ms Sturgeon has supported the right of Catalonians to self-determination.

Mr Anwar said: “We have a concern that if Clara is returned to a prison in Madrid that Spain cannot and will not guarantee her safety and she faces a rela threat to her life whether it be from the authorities or fellow prisoners.”

A joint statement issued after Mr Torra and Ms Sturgeon’s meeting said issues of self-determination must be addressed through democratic referendums.

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