A Spanish court has issued an arrest warrant for Catalonian separatist leader Anna Gabriel, who is currently in Switzerland. An extradition order was not issued.
The Spain-wide arrest warrant was issued on Wednesday by the Supreme Court in Madrid, after Gabriel failed to show up for a hearing accusing her (and others) of rebellion and sedition.
However, the court in Madrid stopped short of demanding Gabriel's extradition from Switzerland, despite the recommendation of the public prosecutor to do so.
Also on Wednesday, the AFP news agency quoted a Swiss justice ministry spokesman as saying that extradition would most likely not be granted by Switzerland in any case.
"According to the legal basis relative to cooperation between Switzerland and Spain [...] Switzerland, like most other states, does not accept extradition requests and all other forms of legal assistance relative to political crimes," Folco Galli told AFP.
'Switzerland will decide my fate'
Gabriel is among various Catalan politicians who have been called to appear before the Supreme Court in Madrid to give evidence. She and other members of the former left-wing alliance, Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP), face criminal charges of sedition and rebellion after organising an independence referendum for Catalonia in violation of the Spanish constitution last October. The penalty is up to 30 years in prison.
“As I won’t get a fair trial at home, I have been looking for a country that could protect my rights,” she told Le Temps. “I have been persecuted for my political activities and the government press has already found me guilty.”
“Switzerland will decide my fate.” Gabriel also told RTS on Tuesday. She reiterated that an extradition would be illegal because it was a case of “political persecution”.
“If I stay in Switzerland, I will try and go back into academia, to settle here and work,” said the former professor of law at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. But she could be imprisoned while waiting to be extradited, she continued. In that case, she said she would ask for political asylum.
Gabriel is not the only leading Catalonian politician to be residing abroad. Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four members of his former Cabinet have also ignored a court summons late last year and are currently in Belgium.