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EDITORIAL
Editorials
These are the responsibility of the editor and convey the newspaper's view on current affairs-both domestic and international

Inconsistent, even contradictory decision

The prosecution shifts gears in the Gürtel case, by not appealing the acquittal of Camps

The decision of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office not to appeal before the Supreme Court the not-guilty verdict on the former premier of the Valencia regional government, Francisco Camps, in the so-called case of the suits (a number of tailored outfits he allegedly received as gifts from the Gürtel corruption network), compares unfavorably with its previous action in the multiple ramifications of the Gürtel case, which has been a priority in the office’s work since the beginning.

The Valencia Socialists, who have acted as plaintiff in the case, are planning to bring an appeal; but an appeal by the Prosecutor’s Office would better underline the defense of the public interest, which is the chief victim of political corruption.

This shift of gears happens when the new national government of the Popular Party (PP) — to which Camps also belongs — has just appointed a new state attorney-general.

As so often in the past, this move invites doubts about the independence of the state prosecutor, so often called for (as if not existing) by the PP in recent legislatures. It is easy to establish a causal relationship between this decision and a case of political corruption that affects the party now in power.

A case that, moreover, is still expanding with the Taxation Agency’s recent discovery of other possible fraud against the revenue department — to the tune of 600,000 euros in VAT and corporate taxes — on the part of the company that used the Gürtel network for the television coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Valencia in 2006.

The ruling issued by the presiding judge in the Valencia court where a jury found Camps innocent mentions the possibility of a final appeal to the Second Section of the Supreme Court. It is true that a jury verdict offers narrower possibilities for appeal than the decision of a professional court; but as long as there exists any margin at all for appeal, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office is under an obligation to take advantage of this possibility, so as not to convey the impression that it lacks determination to go as far as it can in the struggle against political corruption.

The State Prosecutor’s Office has alleged, as a reason for not appealing, that “the rules of a trial-by-jury court are very restrictive,” but it looks very much as if what lies behind the decision are reasons of political opportuneness, rather than legal ones.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office previously showed firm determination in appealing the shelving of the suits case by the High Court of Justice of Valencia — presided at the time by Judge Juan Luis de la Rúa, described by Camps as “more than a friend” — an appeal that allowed the Supreme Court to reopen the case.

In view of this background record of firmness, it is inconsistent, even contradictory, not to do the same in the face of the not-guilty jury verdict passed on Camps.

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