Supreme Court overturns controversial government pardon for kamikaze driver

Motorist who killed 25-year-old man served 10 months and paid 4,000-euro fine

Loreto Dolz, the victim's sister, between the lawyer Agustín Ferrer and the head of Stop Accidentes, Ana Novella, showing a petition againt the pardon.
Loreto Dolz, the victim's sister, between the lawyer Agustín Ferrer and the head of Stop Accidentes, Ana Novella, showing a petition againt the pardon.JOSÉ JORDÁN

The Supreme Court has overturned a government pardon for a motorist, Ramón Jorge Ríos Salgado, who caused the death of 25-year-old José Alfredo Dolz in 2003 while driving the wrong way down a highway for five kilometers. The ruling was made after 19 of the 36 magistrates on the criminal bench of Spain's highest court voted to quash the pardon.

However, the government now has three months to decide whether to accept the ruling or reinstate the pardon, as the court based its decision on "defects" in the original submission. The case caused considerable controversy as the lawyer who handled Rios's case is the brother of a Popular Party deputy, while Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón's son worked at the legal firm at the time. However, the PP and Gallardón reiterated that the minister's son was not involved with the case, as he worked in the mercantile section of the firm and had been out of the country at the time.

Ríos was released in January after serving 10 months of a 13-year sentence and ordered to pay a 4,000-euro fine. His lawyers had managed to keep him out of prison for nine years with a series of appeals before he was jailed in 2012. The victim's sister, Loreto Dolz, welcomed the court's decision after her family lodged an appeal. She had said on Monday that the government pardon "went against common sense."

The reasons laid out for Ríos's early release were cited by the Justice Ministry as "personal and medical," and based on his good prison conduct. Ríos has suffered epileptic episodes, paid his civil liabilities in full, had family support and a very low risk of reoffending.

The pardon is the only one to be granted to a kamikaze driver when the offender had not served at least half of the sentence.

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