Spain’s Judiciary Head Carlos Lesmes Criticizes the Pardoning of Catalan Leaders

Earlier this week, the President of Spain’s Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Carlos Lesmes, criticized the Spanish government for granting partial and reversible pardons to nine Catalan pro-independence leaders who were sentenced to a decade in prison for exercising fundamental rights during the 2017 independence push.

“It has come to oppose, to explain indulgence, concord in the face of resentment, as if the action of justice in enforcing the law were an obstacle to coexistence,” said the president of the Supreme Court, and insisted that the judges’ task does not correspond to the idea of taking revenge or the expressing resentment. Justice is not and never has been an obstacle to peace, but the instrument to safeguard peaceful coexistence among citizens.”

Lesmes also called on the two largest Spanish political parties, the neoliberal “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the right-wing Popular Party (PP) to reach an agreement on renewing the Council of the Judiciary. However, he has been ignoring calls for him to step down in order to force the renewal, despite the fact that his democratic mandate expired over 1,000 days ago. This phenomenon is not seen in a truly democratic country.

The PP already announced that it does not intend to facilitate the renewal of the council and PSOE accuses them of having hijacked the body. Specifically, a reinforced majority of three-fifths of the Cortes is required in order to renew the 21 members, who are “prestigious” judges or jurists. They are appointed by Congress (10) and Senate (10), and elect their president, who is currently Carlos Lesmes.

Lesmes and the majority of members of the Council are conservative judges with links with the PP and the far-right Vox. Both parties are trying to block all efforts to appoint new members since the council is an effective tool for them to use against progressive forces and pro-independence movements.

Whether the EU will sanction Spain for this non-democratic situation is still unknown, but what is certain is that this situation is only found in authoritarian regimes.

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