On Wednesday, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón proclaimed that his government "has not granted a single pardon in any corruption case. What’s more, while I am justice minister, it never will.” But according to a judges' association, that is not strictly true.
Between 2012 and 2013, the Popular Party (PP) government granted pardons to 10 public officials who were sentenced for abuse of power and embezzlement, and it did so at the request of the Justice Ministry, the association said on Thursday.
Asked about the issue, Ruiz-Gallardón alleged that “corruption is not a legally defined crime per se in the Penal Code. What I was asked yesterday is whether politicians who put money into their own pockets had been or were going to be pardoned. And the answer is no: they were not, nor are they going to be.”
But the Judges for Democracy association begs to differ, noting that any channeling of public money constitutes corruption. “It is evident that the minister is not telling the truth,” says Joaquim Bosch, spokesman for a group that is pushing to reform pardon legislation.
The beneficiaries of the pardons include the former mayor of Abdalajís (Málaga), Tomás Gómez Arrabal of the PP, and three other councilors who had been given prison sentences for issuing illegal building permits, in full awareness that they were doing so, between 2001 and 2004. All four of them were let off the hook in July 2012.
Two months before that, the government pardoned Constancio Alvarado, former secretary of the government’s delegation in Cáceres, who had been convicted in 2010 for selling fake permits to immigrants (some of them had paid up to 3,000 euros for their papers).