CORRUPTION

Former PP mayor spared jail while Cabinet considers pardon appeal

Pedro Ángel Hernández Mateo was sentenced to three years for corruption Majority of ruling party's Valencia deputies sign clemency petition

The former Popular Party (PP) mayor of the Valencia region town of Torrevieja, Pedro Ángel Hernández Mateo, will be spared prison while the government studies a petition for a pardon filed by the politician. Hernández Mateo was sentenced to three years in jail and barred from holding public office for seven in a regional High Court (TSJVC) ruling stemming from the corrupt awarding of a garbage contract in the town in 2004, which was worth up to 100 million euros over 10 years.

His regional party colleagues had collected signatures of support for the convictions against Hernández Mateo -- including corruption, perverting the court of justice and falsifying documents -- to be dismissed. The majority of the PP’s regional deputies – 45 of 54 – opted to ignore a warning from Generalitat spokesman Jorge Bellver to refrain from adding their signatures. Regional premier Alberto Fabra on Monday moved to distance himself from the campaign: “Under no circumstances [will the PP] support a motion for a pardon for anybody who has been convicted.”

In a brief court appearance accompanied by his lawyer Monday, the TSJVC said it would suspend Hernández Mateo's incarceration while the Justice Ministry studies his appeal for a pardon. The circumstances of the case will now be passed on to the government by the Valencia Public Prosecutor and the three magistrates who oversaw the trial.

Short sentences are habitually commuted while the Cabinet reaches a decision – on the basis that should a pardon be granted, it loses its logic if the appellant has spent time behind bars. But judicial sources said it is extremely unlikely Hernández Mateo’s petition will prosper.

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