Beyond its language, often unintelligible to mere mortals, the 42 pages of the Spanish Supreme Court ruling, for which judge Manuel Marchena Gómez has acted as spokesperson, are an exercise in understanding the realism of the Spanish state, with an emboldened justice system that is without opposing forces when it exercises power. The naive exercise of amending the Penal Code carried out by the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) in order to reduce the sentences given to the political prisoners convicted in the pro-independence leaders' trial, forcing an agreement first with Podemos and later with the Socialists (PSOE) in the Congress of Deputies, has been unapologetically put through the blender by the second chamber of the Supreme Court. Marchena does not believe in reaching agreements and, erected as the last bastion of the state to prevent the reduction of sentences both now and in the future, he has established a pernicious doctrine, in which he makes a biased rereading of the leaders' trial verdict, so that nothing changes for Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa. Instead, he ends the ban on office holding for Cuixart, Sànchez, Rull, Forn and Forcadell, who are freed from the sentence, regain their rights and can stand in the elections.
Marchena gives a rebuke to the Spanish government for its modification of the Penal Code. In fact, he is its final destination, and he draws the red line that the Supreme Court will not cross: that of the ringleaders that he was able to try and on whose backs he places the weight of a very sui generis reinterpretation of the new crime of misuse of public funds. Thus, like those who pull rabbits out of hats, he produces the claim that there was a profit motive and thus transforms the crime of misuse of funds into its aggravated variant, with the consequent increase in years of disqualification from holding office. A lesson for next time: political agreements are not transferable to the Supreme Court and to imagine that the judges would not make an ad hoc interpretation is to be ignorant of what power is and to forget that in Madrid things have been done this way for centuries. I asked this once before and I repeat it today: At what point did some pro-independence leaders forget the enormous literature from the leaders' trial? The thing is, everything that has happened now was already present there.
The Supreme Court's ruling also gives clues about judicial cases that remain open and whose path is becoming more difficult despite the amendments to the Penal Code. The first is the trial of the two members of the Junqueras team at the Catalan economy ministry in 2017, Josep Maria Jové and Lluís Salvadó. This very week, we will know the prosecutors' sentence demand and indictment for them, and, given Marchena's restrictive interpretation and the chief public prosecutor's instruction of a couple of weeks ago, they could be punished with the barbarity of up to 12 years' prison if the expenditure exceeds 250,000 euros. In addition to being unfair and disproportionate, it would have a collateral effect: the efforts made by ERC to prevent this situation would have achieved very little. In part, because Pedro Sánchez, once again transformed into chameleon, long ago distanced himself from the problems that ERC could have, once he accepted the modification of the crimes of sedition and misuse of funds that was asked of him in exchange for parliamentary support.
For this reason, with this crocodile skin, so hard and resistant to any situation that may arise, the party's number two, María Jesús Montero, affirms that the Supreme Court's ruling shows that the PSOE was right and that the most serious crimes continue to be crimes under the amended Penal Code. Also, she adds that they already envisaged that the bans on office holding for the four convicts would be maintained when the Penal Code reform was approved. That is to say, that at the negotiation table they said one thing, while they worked for another and thus they cheated everyone. Really, the strange thing is that they still have any allies who want them to continue passing laws even if it's as the lesser of two evils, since People's Party (PP) leader Feijóo would be much worse. New threats have also emerged for those Catalan government officials who led the 2017 independence process and their subordinates whose cases are proceeding in courts 13 and 18 of Barcelona.
There remains pending, as one last chance, that the ban from office against Junqueras, Turull, Romeva and Bassa could be lifted by the trump card of the Constitutional Court, with its recently modified composition over which the PP has lost majority control. Last week, the judges close to the PSOE already reversed the blockage that existed on the abortion law and its definitions by terms, which had been pending the Constitutional Court's decision for 12 years. We will see if this so-called progressive majority, with Conde-Pumpido at the head, will be able to modify the Supreme Court's resolution, bearing in mind that two judges of the court will not able to vote because they could be recused on the matter, and with their abstention, the difference between the two families in the court changes to a razor-thin five-to-four. This, without taking into account that, with elections in the middle, the PSOE will be seeking as little noise as possible.