Supreme Court throws out case against Pedro Sanchez over pardons of political prisoners

Accusation of misfeasance against Spanish president dismissed as Court concludes he has competence to grant measure of grace

2 min
Political prisoners leaving Almeces Prison

BarcelonaThe Courts' have accepted the pardons of political prisoners. The Supreme Court has rejected for the first time a complaint against the president of the Spanish government over the pardon of nine pro-independence leaders convicted over the Independence referendum, as has advanced eldiario.es and the high court has subsequently confirmed. The judges of the criminal chamber have rejected accusation of misfeasance presented by far-right Spanish Liberal Right party through lawyer José Ignacio Sánchez Rubio. The court's verdict, presided over by Manuel Marchena and with magistrate Susana Polo as rapporteur, is categorical and reproaches that the plaintiff does not offer "the minimum analysis of the criminal elements they invoke" and stresses that the measure of grace "has been applied by the competent authority' and that this cannot be considered "unjust or arbitrary".

The criminal complaint, which was filed on June 23, argued that the pardons had been granted "unfairly, as a bargaining chip for Catalan pro-independence groups in return for their support" to Pedro Sánchez's executive. The plaintiff stated they were granted "fraudulently, using them for the personal, political or economic interests of the members of the Government that granted them", and added that the pardon was not requested by the convicts and that there is no evidence of repentance. It therefore considered that the nine pardons entailed nine counts of misfeasance.

The court recalls, after underlining that the plaintiff himself recognises the legitimacy of the Spanish government to grant total or partial pardons and that the procedures of the mandatory report from the sentencing court and the public prosecutor's office have been complied with, that "the function of the courts cannot consist of verifying that the resolution conforms to the law, but to verify whether a clear and gross violation of the law has been committed, putting the official's own will before the requirements of the action". Likewise, it indicates that the executive is free to assess the reasons of justice, equity and public utility that lead it to grant the pardon, but that they have to keep the necessary coherence with the facts that constitute its factual support and that this can be checked by the jurisdictional body to rule out any indication of arbitrariness.

Ciudadanos' precedent

Last June, the administrative contentious chamber of the Supreme Court already rejected the request by three Ciudadanos leaders and refused to urgently suspend the validity of the pardons granted by the Spanish government to the nine defendants in the Independence referendum case. It thus rejected the request for "precautionary" measures urged by the president of Ciudadanos, Inés Arrimadas, the also former Catalan MP José María Espejo-Saavedra and the leader of Ciudadanos in Catalonia, Carlos Carrizosa, who demanded that the high court proceed to the re-imprisonment of those convicted of sedition and embezzlement while the appeals against the ruling were heard. The People's Party and Vox also filed similar appeals.