Catalan ex-politician let off hook by PP-CiU pardon

Former Unió official and businessman were convicted on corruption charges in 2009

Left and center: Acuña and Servitje.
Left and center: Acuña and Servitje.GIANLUCA BATTISTA

The government has pardoned a former top-ranking member in the Catalonia regional administration and a businessman facing jail sentences for corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

Josep Maria Servitje, the secretary general of the employment department in the Catalan regional government of Jordi Pujol, and Víctor Manuel Lorenzo Acuña had been sentenced by the Barcelona High Court in 2009 to four-and-a-half years and two years and three months, respectively. But on February 17 the government issued two decrees quashing the jail terms and fining the two men 3,650 euros each, according to the Official State Bulletin published on Tuesday. Both Servitje and Acuña are members of Unió Democràtica, part of the CiU Catalan nationalist bloc, which ruled in Catalonia under Pujol between 1980 and 2003. Acuña is a former brother-in-law to ex-Unió leader Josep Sánchez Llibre.

The charges against Servitje and Acuña date back to 1994 and 1995, when Catalonia's employment department took on eight studies of employment rights that, according to the investigation, were simply copies of previous studies. The regional administration paid 46,158 euros for the reports to two companies run by Acuña, who had previously been sentenced to 13 months for a similar case.

The court declared it proven that Servitje made the arrangement with Acuña to take charge of the studies.

Albert Rivera, of the cultural and civic platform Ciutadans de Catalunya, called the pact between the PP and the ruling CiU Catalan nationalist bloc "shameful." "It seems that the small print of the pact opens the door to pardoning the corrupt politicians of CiU. It's a scandal."

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