It seemed that the Spanish judiciary had closed the file on the pardons granted last year to the nine Catalan political prisoners, but this is not the case. According to Spanish digital newspaper El Confidencial, the Supreme Court chamber responsible for reviewing the granting of pardons by the Spanish government plans to reverse its decision regarding the seven separate appeals which were received on the matter. That is, the court is now considering modifying its initial decision to deny the appeals against the pardons which were lodged by various political parties and associations. Thus, the resources could be admitted, which does not mean that the pardons would be withdrawn, but it could bring the issue back to life for part of Spanish public opinion and some media.
Why is the Supreme Court reviewing this decision it made months ago? The composition of the critical chamber in the administrative disputes section of the highest Spanish court, which at one time rejected all the appeals against pardons, has changed. The decision not to accept the appeals against the pardons was taken by the narrowest of margins: three votes to two. The court president, Segundo Menéndez, the spokesperson judge, Ángeles Huet, and a third judge, Octavio Herrero, voted in favour of denying the appeals en bloc, against the criteria of the other two judges. But this balance of power in the chamber has changed with the replacement of Huet by judge Inés Huerta, who does not share the criteria of her predecessor. The court president Menéndez, an openly progressive judge, is also taking retirement.
According to El Confidencial, as the initial decision to reject the appeals for pardons en bloc was taken by a single vote, any difference in the chamber's internal criteria may overturn that decision in the appeal phase.
A narrow margin
Last January, seven appeals against the pardons of political prisoners were rejected. The Supreme Court denied en bloc the appeals filed the anti-independence association Convivencia Cívica Catalana; the Cs leaders, Inés Arrimadas, Carlos Carrizosa and José María Espejo-Saavedra; far-right Vox as a party; the PP as a party; present and past PP deputies in the Catalan Parliament Alejandro Fernández, Santiago Rodríguez, Andrea Levy, Juan Bautista Milian and Lorena Roldán; the former delegate of the Spanish government in Catalonia, Enric Millo, and the association Pro Patrimonium Sijena y Jerusalén.
The narrow margin of the Supreme Court's decision may be precisely what will end up reversing it, now that there have been changes in the court. However, the possible change in the criteria of the Supreme Court on admitting the appeals does not ensure that they will end up being successful, but rather only allows them to continue advancing in the judicial process.