José Rico – May 30, 2021
Juan Carlos Campo / FERNANDO ALVARADO
This is how the pardons to the ‘procés’ prisoners could be: dates, scope and conditions
The government of Pedro Sánchez will face in the coming weeks what, in all probability, will be the decision that could lead to the highest political bill to pay in the entire term: the pardons for the 1-O prisoners. After the loud slam of the Supreme Court to endorse the grace measure, the Ministry of Justice must now weave some arguments that will be decisive so that, if necessary, the magistrates cannot revoke the foreseeable executive pardon to the leaders of the ‘procés’.
These are some options that the Government has on the table to try to minimize the political cost of a measure that has already mobilized the right against it and keeps the independence movement on guard.
There is no legal term to take the decision to pardon. From now on, the Ministry of Justice must prepare the file with a proposal for or against the concession. The minister of the branch, Juan Carlos Campo, will raise it to the Council of Ministers, which will study it to adopt the decision that it considers most appropriate.
Although Sánchez could wait, for example, until the last Council of Ministers before the holidays in search of less impact, government sources place the decision between the end of June and the beginning of July. It would be, in any case, after the primaries of the PSOE of Andalusia, in which the socialist leader is playing the definitive dethronement of Susana Díaz.
The limits of forgiveness
The pardons can no longer be total, that is, the Government will no longer be able to forgive all the sentences to the prisoners of the ‘procés’. The law prevents doing so when the sentencing court has ruled against the measure. Thus, the pardon can only be partial, that is, only part of the penalties would be forgiven. That leaves a lot of scope for the Executive to undertake surgical pardons.
The option that can be considered less politically damaging would be to commute the minimum enough years of sentence to each prisoner so that they can be released, but maintaining the disqualification penalty that also weighs on all of them. According to the legal sources cited by Europa Press, the partial pardons would mean, Criminal Code in hand, their release due to the obligatory progression to the third prison degree or, even, conditional release if, after subtracting the years forgiven, they had already served two thirds of the sentence.
There is a well-known (and controversial) precedent: in 1998, the Government of José María Aznar pardoned two thirds of José Barrionuevo and Rafael Vera’s 10-year sentence for the GAL, which, added to subsequent prison benefits, resulted in that they could leave the prison in a short time.
The pardon is applied through a law of 1870 that has undergone few modifications. Hence, its concession is accompanied by certain formulas that are repeated from one case to another. All those granted include the tagline “on the condition that they do not commit a fraudulent crime again within X years from the publication of the royal decree”. The only difference is the number of years that are marked not to return to prison.
This formula could serve the Government as a buffer against criticism, given that it would grant the pardons of the ‘procés’ a reversible character in case, for example, the motto (“We will do it again”) that one of the prisoners, the leader of Omnium Jordi Cuixart, keeps repeating, is fulfilled.