Suspended judge Baltasar Garzón denied government pardon

Spain’s Popular Party administration also turns down requests from politicians and a bullfighter

Former Balearics regional premier Jaume Matas walks out of the High Court in May 2013.
Former Balearics regional premier Jaume Matas walks out of the High Court in May 2013.

The Popular Party (PP) government on Friday turned down pardon requests from several high-profile figures who have been convicted of a variety of offenses.

The most internationally renowned is former High Court judge Baltasar Garzón, who was barred from the bench for 11 years for ordering wiretaps of prison conversations between members of the Gürtel bribes-for-contracts ring and their lawyers. The Supreme Court considered the wiretaps illegal, even though other judges had ordered similar actions in the past without running into trouble.

The Spanish left viewed the conviction as a government vendetta against Garzón for investigating both Gürtel, a corruption scheme that affected many PP officials, and war crimes committed under the Franco regime. Garzón’s pardon request took a year to be transferred from the Supreme Court to the Justice Ministry.

Ex-Balearics premier Jaume Matas will now have to serve his nine-month sentence for influence peddling

The cabinet also turned down a pardon request by the former PP regional premier of the Balearic Islands, Jaume Matas. The ex-politician was found guilty of influence peddling in connection with the hiring of a journalist to write his speeches for him; the same journalist later praised Matas and his speeches in articles he wrote in his day job at El Mundo newspaper.

Matas is also involved in a major corruption case involving the construction of a sports arena in Palma de Mallorca, whose ramifications ended up ensnaring a member of the royal family, Cristina de Borbón, and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin. Following the government’s refusal, Matas will have to serve his nine-month sentence for influence peddling.

Former Marbella mayor Julián Muñoz, who was also convicted of corruption in a case involving money paid illegally by the city to lawyer and former president of Sevilla soccer club José María del Nido, similarly saw his pardon request turned down. Further refusals were made to bullfighter José Ortega Cano, who is in jail for causing a car accident that killed another driver; a former official of Catalan party Unió Democrática who helped secure illegal financing; and a leader of the PP’s youth group, Miguel Ángel Carromero, who crashed his car in Cuba, killing two of its occupants.

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