A SCOTS sheriff has delayed a decision on Spain’s bid to extradite former Catalan education minister Clara Ponsati until European authorities rule on her immunity from prosecution as an MEP.

The St Andrews academic, who became a Spanish MEP when Spain was given five extra seats after Brexit, faces a charge of sedition for her role in Catalonia’s independence referendum in October 2017.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday that her status as a European parliamentarian gave her immunity from prosecution in Spain.

Ponsati’s brief, Gordon Jackson QC, told the court the Spanish government had applied to the European legislature asking it to waive her immunity so she can be prosecuted.

READ MORE: WATCH: Clara Ponsati decision a ‘victory’ over Spain’s abuse of law

Yesterday’s hearing had been expected to centre on the competency of the extradition warrant and issues surrounding dual criminality, which relate to whether the allegation is an offence in both countries.

However, Jackson said there was no point discussing matters further until the immunity issue was settled, describing the current situation as a “stalemate”.

“Ms Ponsati is now a member of the European Parliament, that means she has immunity,” he said.

“She has immunity from prosecution in Spain and Spain do not dispute that. Spain has applied to the European Parliament for waiver of the immunity. We’ve agreed that it would make absolutely no sense whatsoever to keep going with this until that immunity issue is sorted.

“We seem to be in a kind of stalemate until that gets sorted.”

Ponsati took her seat at Strasbourg last month, alongside ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and former minister Toni Comin.

Solicitor Advocate John Scott QC, for the Crown, said Spain applied for the waiver in February and it could be around four months before a decision is made.

Sheriff Nigel Ross agreed a full hearing scheduled for May would now no longer take place and the matter would be continued until June 18.

“Nothing will happen today and we will await the outcome of Spain’s application to the European Parliament,” he said.

If convicted, Ponsati could face up to 15 years in prison, along with nine other pro-Catalan indy figures who last year were sentenced to between nine and 13 years for the same offence.

The National: Lawyer Aamer Anwar

Aamer Anwar, Ponsati’s lawyer, said that after Brexit, it could be that the European arrest warrant (EAW) procedure no longer applies, in which case we would revert to the old extradition act of 1957, which would make it even harder to extradite Ponsati.

“If it is the case that we are no longer member states, the principle of mutual recognition should not apply,” he said.

“The question for the court is whether the risk of prejudice to the prospects of fair trial are so grave that no direction of the judge, however careful, could reasonably be expected to remove it.

“We would submit that the Spanish Supreme Court cannot ensure a fair trial and any trial of Clara Ponsati would be viewed as a ‘political show trial’.”

He added: “In a true democracy people do not get prosecuted for advocating political change by peaceful and constitutional means, nor can we allow Clara Ponsati to be extradited for doing the same in Spain.

“Today is another victory against the abuse of the rule of law by Spain, but we still have a long way to go.”