Political parties and labor unions should be subject to criminal charges: justice minister

Gallardón may also consider measures to bar people who have been implicated in offenses from standing for office

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said on Wednesday that in the reform of the Penal Code his department is drawing up, political parties and labor unions will also be subject to criminal prosecution in the same way as individuals.

Gallardón was speaking in Congress in response to a question filed by the leader of the UPyD group, Rosa Díez. He said “it doesn’t make sense” for political and labor groups to be exempt from prosecution as is currently the case.

Justice Ministry officials subsequently said parties could be prosecuted for offenses committed by their leaders or members if these were approved by their top management boards.

Gallardón rejected Díez’s proposal that people who had been implicated in crimes should be barred from standing for political office. However, he said he was willing to study options under which an individual could be prevented from taking part in elections if legal proceedings had been initiated on the basis of a “rational indication of criminality.”

Justice Ministry sources said this could also be applied to people who have been implicated in offenses who are seeking public office.

However, Gallardón added the rider that any such arrangement should guarantee the presumption of innocence.

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