THE Scottish Government has stepped up pressure on Spain to drop legal action against the former Catalan education minister Clara Ponsati.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop wrote to the Spanish ambassador in London yesteday expressing disapproval over the request to extradite the St Andrews University academic.

READ MORE: EU's reply to Scottish request on European arrest warrants a 'litmus test'

Hyslop said in her letter that it was a matter of “regret” that Scotlands’s legal system had been drawn into the matter and urged Spain to resolve the crisis in Catalonia by “peaceful and democratic means”.

She told the Aambassador: “Scottish Ministers have no powers to intervene in the process ... however, notwithstanding ... it is appropriate to make clear the Scottish Government’s regret that Spain has chosen to pursue this route and to involve Scotland’s legal system in what should be a matter of political debate and resolution.

“I therefore take this opportunity to again, and respectfully, call upon Spain to seek to resolve the current stand-off in Catalonia by peaceful and democratic means.”

READ MORE: Clara Ponsati sends message to Spain ahead of first court appearance

Earlier yesterday Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said Ministers will also raise concerns with the European Commission over the use of European arrest warrants against the Catalan politicians.

He announced the move as he updated MSPs on the situation regarding Ponsati, who is expected to appear in court in Edinburgh today.

A Spanish judge issued international arrest warrants on Friday for Ponsati and other fugitive politicians including ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who was detained by German police at the weekend.

Matheson told MSPs that the Scottish Government “supports the right of the people of Catalonia to determine their own future” and that it was time for “dialogue to replace confrontation”.

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He said: “We profoundly regret that the Spanish government has failed to engage in dialogue with Catalonia’s politicians and that the issue is now instead subject to the judicial process.”

In response to a question from SNP MSP Clare Haughey, Matheson added: “I can inform the chamber and the member that we have concerns over how the system of European arrest warrants is being used and we will be raising this matter with the European Commission.

“I should point out to members that the European legislation establishing European arrest warrants itself makes clear that it does not modify the obligation to respect fundamental rights and fundamental legal principles.”

Matheson emphasised that ministers have no role in the deter- mination of European arrest warrants under the Extradition Act 2003. He said: “The matter is, however, now sub judice and it’s important that the Parliament should respect that rule, which is designed to protect the integrity of the judicial process.”

John Finnie, the Scottish Greens’ justice spokesman, said the legal process does not operate in isolation from wider democratic issues in society.

“The vile former South African regime and the vile current Israeli apartheid regime would both tell us that they acted legally at the time, so there must be a tipping point at which political intervention takes place,” he said. “If a regime is mercilessly beating innocent and defenceless citizens, and jailing elected politicians, what is the tipping point for political intervention by the Scottish Government?”

Ponsati returned to Scotland earlier this month, having been in Belgium since fleeing Spain with Puigdemont and three other former cabinet members following an unsuccessful bid to declare independence from Spain in October.

She posted on social media she had resumed working at the University of St Andrews in Fife. Her lawyer Anwar Anwar said following discussions with Police Scotland and the Crown Office, arrangements would be made for Ponsati to voluntarily attend a police station then appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Bail would be applied for and a full hearing on the extradition request is expected to follow several weeks later.