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"The appellants' appeal has no other purpose than to defend a particular political position." This is the central argument expressed by two Spanish Supreme Court judges in their dissenting vote, in which they assert that there should have been no admission of the appeals presented by PP, Cs and parliamentarians, and Vox against the pardons granted a year ago to the nine jailed Catalan pro-independence leaders. Unexpectedly, on May 24th, the administrative disputes chamber of the highest Spanish court, led by a new presiding judge, admitted the appeals made by the political parties and by Enric Millo, former Spanish government delegate in Catalonia in 2017. The Supreme Court has this Thursday made public the decisions of the divided court (three votes in favour and two against) and the dissenting opinions presented by the judges Octavio Juan Herrero and Ángel Ramón Arozamena, in which they make the same argument in the rejection of all the appeals.

Judges Herrero and Arozamena, unlike their other three colleagues, consider that the appeals should not have been admitted for processing, considering that the three political parties have no legitimacy to appeal against the Spanish government's decision to grant the measure of grace, as defended by the State Solicitor's Office and as initially resolved by the chamber, with different judges, who also decided by three votes to two, but with the majority opting to refuse the appeals. The dissenting members of the court assert that the political parties are not direct victims of the crime of sedition, according to the Supreme Court's ruling, and therefore cannot appeal the partial pardons.


Specifically, the two judges state that the criminal sentence against the Catalan pro-independence leaders defines the legal, public and institutional goods that are protected through [punishment of] the crime of sedition, and “does not enter into the reparation of specific rights held by parliamentarians or of acts of violence, intimidation and threats that the appellants refer to as justification for their legitimacy”. In other words, the execution of the sentence "has no bearing on the reparation of the particular interests referred to", which, as in the case of Millo, stated that he had been insulted and persecuted.

The two judges also criticise three Ciudadanos politicians who presented an appeal, Inés Arrimades, Carlos Carrizosa and José Espejo-Saavedra, for entering into a "contradiction" in setting out their motivation as victims, as they first indicate that their claim affects the whole of society and then them, as parliamentarians.


In the dissenting opinion, the two judges criticise their colleagues in their affirmation that “it is the legislator who, assessing the scope of public, general, collective and institutional interests, determines and delimits the legitimacy in the defence of these,” and they detail that, for example, the right to equal treatment between women and men has been added, among other elements. They also state that those making the appeals have expressed their interest very clearly and therefore there is no need to wait for a judgment for it to be clear whether or not they have legitimacy. As will happen now.

Next steps

Now, the disputes chamber - whose three-votes-to-two majority did allow the appeals to move forward despite this dissenting opinion - has to admit the evidence requested by the parties in order to pass judgment. The response will take at least six months, and if in the end, the pardons are overthrown, the Spanish government could re-grant partial pardons to the Catalan policital and civil leaders. The PP has already announced that, if it becomes the government, it will put them back in prison.