Juridification of the Independence bid
Politics 30/03/2021

State Attorney does not commit over pardon but stresses "economic damage is repaired"

The body that depends on the Ministry of Justice argues that taking a position would be "anticipating the government's decision".

3 min
Political prisoners, during a rally outside Almeces prison

MadridThe State Attorney has not dispelled uncertainty about the pardon for political prisoners and has not taken a position on whether or not to grant it. In the report requested by the Supreme Court, which El Español has advanced and which ARA has had access to, the organism, which depends on the Ministry of Justice, argues that stating its opinion would be "anticipating or determining the sense of a decision that corresponds to the Spanish government" and chooses not to get involved. "The offended party that issues the report is the general administration of the State, of which both the body that has to formulate the proposal for a pardon - the Minister of Justice - and the body that has to agree to it - the Council of Ministers - are part," emphasises the State lawyer Rosa María Seoane, who acted as prosecutor during the trial.

However, she stresses that the "economic damage is repaired" with the bail that the defendants had to deposit at the Court of Auditors. The State Attorney's Office emphasises the reason why it appeared as a prosecutor in the judicial process, which is as an injured party for the crime of embezzlement of public funds. The procedure ended up including many more accusing parties and a longer charge sheet, among which was the crime of sedition.

As the law of pardon provides that the Prosecutor's Office and the offended party issue a report - Vox did not have to do it, although it sent one to the Supreme Court anyway - the State Attorney believes that the most logical thing would be that the content of her brief revolve around the accounting responsibilities of the convicted. In this sense, the report only refers to the leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras; ex Catalan Minister of Foreign Affairs Raül Romeva; former Minister for the Presidency Jordi Turull and ex Catalan Minister for Work Dolors Bassa, convicted of embezzlement

The appearance of the State Attorney's Office in the judicial proceedings was at the request of the Undersecretary of Finance and now, for the request for pardon, he asked for a report, which is based on the information sent by the Court of Auditors. The auditing body pointed out that in February last year the amount of €4.1m was paid to avoid the seizure of assets, so that the crime of embezzlement was repaired. This is ratified by the State Attorney's Office: having guaranteed this amount to date, the bail constitutes an element that would repair the economic damage caused to the public treasury".

This guarantee is considered sufficient, beyond the fact that the Court of Auditors is instructing another process on the delegations abroad of which there could be news soon. It is a case which joins the previous one, according to the audit body, which is still pending the release of the provisional liquidation act, a phase equivalent to the end of the instruction that leads to the prosecution. "This later complementary liquidation does not prevent the State Attorney from commenting now on the damage caused to public finances for the purposes of this report. If there is no error or omission of this representation, the result of this complementary liquidation would not affect the expenses that the ruling of October 14, 2019 analyded to conclude with the conviction for embezzlement of four of the defendants, today convicted."

No clues to Sanchez's decision

Thus, the State Attorney's Office puts an end to the speculation on whether its positioning could be an important clue on the cabinet's final decision. "Neither the report that accompanies this brief nor the brief itself incorporates an assessment on the fairness or appropriateness and form of the granting of the pardon," the brief says. The report emphasizes that the general state administration is a single entity that integrates both the Attorney General's Office and the government, so it cannot advance the cabinet's decision.

Once it has the report, the Supreme Court can now draw up its own. It will have to compile all the documentation and say what is its criterion on the concession or not of the pardon to each of the convicted. Then it will transfer all the files to the Ministry of Justice, who is who formally makes the proposal to the cabinet. No one is unaware, however, that it will be the president, Pedro Sánchez, who will make the decision on the pardon. If the Supreme Court opposes it, it can only be partial: that is, the prison sentence and disqualification cannot be completely eliminated.