Campo rules out an early pardon for Puigdemont, although it is possible

The Minister of Justice affirms that the incorporation into the Criminal Code of the illegal calling of referendums continues

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Minister Juan Carlos Campo yesterday in Congress .

BarcelonaCarles Puigdemont will only have the possibility of being pardoned if he returns to Spain and is judged. This has been assured by the Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, who has stated that the Spanish government "does not consider in any case" an early pardon of the Catalan ex -President exiled in Belgium. Campo has admitted that this formula is possible, despite the fact that essentially the pardon requires that there is a firm conviction. There is, however, an exception.

Although Puigdemont has not been tried and, therefore, has no penalties to commute, he could be pardoned. As the lawyer Pau Molins reminds ARA, and as already pointed out in an article in La Vanguardia the explanatory statement of the law of pardon that dates back to 1870 would allow the pardon to be applied to the the ex-President and the other exiles. Specifically, it says that the pardon can only be given to people with a final sentence against them, such as political prisoners, but those accused of crimes of sedition and rebellion can be pardoned before being tried. "The nature of crimes of this class, the character and conditions of the society of our time, and even other considerations of government demonstrate the need for this exception", the wording of the law argues.

A loophole that would be almost tailor-made for exiles who are not on trial for embezzlement. Those who are would have to stand trial and, if convicted, embezzlement can also mean many years in prison. Be that as it may, this is an alternative that the Spanish government has already ruled out. Obviating the option of an early pardon, Campo has urged Puigdemont to return to Spain to stand trial. In an interview with Onda Cero, Campo said that it is "clear" that if the ex-President returns to the Spanish state, he would have to be arrested because he is a "fugitive from justice". The Minister has denied that immunity as an MEP protects him: "He knows that it doesn't", he said.

Once the pardons were granted to the political prisoners this Wednesday, Campo has reopened a debate that the socialists have not raised since the 2019 election campaign: the reincorporation into the Penal Code of illegal referendums. A measure that Pedro Sánchez promised in the middle of the electoral debate, when he maintained a more combative tone with the independentism and sought the votes of C's. This Wednesday Campo has stated that this initiative is neither "ajornada" nor "discarded". "You cannot do everything at once", justified the Minister.

The fact that the PSOE ends up finally promoting this reform would be a step backwards of the Spanish government after the granting of pardons and the commitment to reconvene the dialogue table. In fact, it was the same socialists who proposed repealing this crime in 2005 -which had been approved by only PP two years earlier to stop the Ibarretxe plan- and, finally, Congress eliminated it with the support of all parties except the Popular Party.

The sedition reform, waiting for support

Campo has revived the possibility of recovering the criminalisation of illegal referendums, although it had disappeared from the agenda of the Spanish government. What the Minister did promise months ago, when the legislature started, is the reform of the crime of sedition. It had to arrive before 2021, but it is still "under study", Campo has pointed out. "It is not frozen", defended the Minister, who has argued that right now there is not enough parliamentary support. "It's absurd", he added. The reform of sedition is an initiative that Unidos Podemos has already demanded be processed quickly to help the situation of the exiles, although Campo insists that the objective is not this, but rather to carry out a "deep review of the legal right of public order".