Convicted former Balearic premier asks for pardon

Matas has been ordered to begin serving sentence for influence peddling

Jaume Matas a su llegada a los juzgados el pasado enero
Jaume Matas a su llegada a los juzgados el pasado eneroTOLO RAMÓN

Former Balearic regional premier Jaume Matas, who was ordered on Tuesday to begin serving nine months in jail as the result of an inquiry into the construction of a sports arena, has asked the Popular Party (PP) government for a pardon in case he is unable to appeal the judge’s order, his lawyers said Tuesday.

The regional High Court in Palma de Mallorca ordered Matas to report to jail within five days following his influence-peddling convictions in the so-called Palma Arena case.

The Supreme Court in July had already lowered Matas’s sentence from six years to nine months, but the lower court has rejected his petition to pay a 12,000-euro fine instead of having to serve jail time. Matas’s lawyers repeated their request on Tuesday.

Matas has already appealed the five-day deadline to report to jail.

Pilar Gómez Pavón, one of Matas’s lawyers, confirmed that she submitted all the paperwork for the Justice Ministry to consider the pardon so that Matas won’t have to go to jail, Efe news agency reported.

Gómez Pavón said she believed that her client won’t have to serve time for now because the court originally decided in his case that he could remain free while he appealed.

The former Popular Party (PP) premier was originally sentenced to six years in March 2012 for fraud, influence peddling, embezzlement, falsifying documents and dereliction of his public duties for paying nearly 500,000 euros to businesses set up by a former columnist at El Mundo. The ex-newspaper journalist Antonio Alemany, who wrote glowing articles about Matas’s administration, was given a jail sentence of three years and nine months in the case.

The regional High Court has ruled that Matas should not be allowed to avoid jail-time — even though Spanish law provides that defendants sentenced to under two years do not have to serve if the court agrees — after it found he had not shown remorse.

The pardon system in Spain has recently come under fire after the Justice Ministry decided to review the convictions of the former PP mayor of Torrevieja, Pedro Ángel Hernández Mateo, who was sentenced to three years for corruption.

In January, a motorist sentenced to 13 years for causing a death by dangerous driving had his term commuted to 10 months by the Justice Ministry but the Supreme Court overturned the decision.