FORMER Catalan education minister Professor Clara Ponsati will fight extradition to Spain on “many grounds, including the fact it is a “politically motivated prosecution”, her solicitor said yesterday.

Aamer Anwar spoke out after Ponsati attended Edinburgh Sheriff Court for a second time as she continues her legal battle.

Ponsati “utterly refutes” charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds over her role in Catalonia’s controversial independence referendum last year.

If extradited and convicted of the charges in Spain, Anwar says she could face a total sentence of up to 33 years, sparking fears the 61-year-old could spend the rest of her locked up.

The St Andrews University academic attended a preliminary hearing at which her legal team lodged its draft legal submissions ahead of a full hearing set to begin in July.

A further preliminary hearing was set down for June 12, with Sheriff Nigel Ross QC saying he hoped further information on the legal arguments for both sides would be available to the court by that stage.

Speaking later outside court, Anwar said: “At today’s hearing we lodged our draft legal submissions and intend to fight the extradition on many grounds, including the claim that this is a politically motivated prosecution.

“To extradite Clara would be unjust, oppressive and incompatible with her human rights. Spain has failed to specify a single act of violence attributable to Clara Ponsati and the allegations she faces are a grotesque distortion of the truth.

“Spanish politicians talk of the rule of law, yet not one Spanish police officer has been prosecuted for their unprovoked attacks on defenceless Catalans at more than 2000 polling stations. We intend to challenge in our courts the independence and impartiality of the Spanish judiciary.

“Throughout Europe, Spain stands accused of abusing the European arrest warrant as a tool of political repression.

“The courts can never be a solution or alternative to political negotiation. Spain today faces its greatest crisis since dark days of General Franco.

“Without the unconditional release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of the European Arrest Warrants there will never be a resolution to the crisis.

“A full hearing will now take place on July 30 for two weeks, with preliminary hearings on June 12 and July 5,” he added.