Dialogue table

Iceta opens the door to pardoning Puigdemont if he returns to Spain

Minister and leader of the Catalan Socialists believes it would be necessary to act similarly as with those convicted over the Independence bid

2 min
The Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, in a control session in Congress

MadridMiquel Iceta said that, when the time came, pardons could be a way out for the leaders of the Independence bid who were to be tried in the Supreme Court. It was December 13, 2017, during the election campaign in Catalonia, and there was still more than a year to go before the trial and almost two for the conviction of sedition. Now it is an unknown whether or not former president Carles Puigdemont will return to Spain, but the Minister of Culture and Sports and leader of the Catalan Socialists' Party has already spoken in favour of granting pardons if he chooses to follow the same path as his former colleagues in Government. He did so this morning in an interview on RAC1, as last time: "I think he should decide to return and submit to the courts. Then, between all of us, we should be able to find happy solutions, as we have found with the pardon of those already sentenced by the Supreme Court".

According to Iceta, there should be no difference between the Independence bid leaders. If some submitted to Spanish jurisdiction, so should those who are in exile in Belgium or Switzerland. "If not, some will have gone one way and others, it is not clear why, will go another. In a state of law that tries to treat everyone equally, this is unthinkable," he defended. And if those convicted ended up pardoned by Pedro Sánchez's government, why not those who in a hypothetical future would be tried by the Spanish Supreme Court? "Time has proven me right and I believe that this continues to be the path," added the former first secretary of the PSC.

The interpretation of sedition

In spite of defending that exiles go through the same judicial route as those who stayed and went to prison, Iceta predicted the possibility that an eventual sentence would not be "exactly identical" to the one dictated by the court presided by Manuel Marchena. The minister has not gone into details, but the judges who would settle Puigdemont's case, if this were to happen, would now have as precedents the Constitutional Court's pronouncements. It has endorsed the Supreme Court's sentence, although there were dissenting votes that pointed to alternatives to the conviction for sedition.

The option of reforming the crime of sedition seems to have been parked for the time being. For some time the PSOE government, following Unidas Podemos's theses, proposed to accelerate a change to the Penal Code to modify the crimes of sedition and rebellion, either with by reducing the penalties and/or a different definition of the crimes, but this has not materialised. A few days ago in an interview in La Vanguardia, Sánchez insisted on the necessary "modernisation" and "updating" of the Penal Code, but warned that there is no majority to carry out the reform. The pro-independence movement would like to eliminate the crime altogether. Iceta has noted that there is a "discussion" around reviewing these crimes, without going any further. It remains to be seen whether this debate will be triggered in the framework of the resumption of relations between the Catalan and Spanish governments.