Progressive woman to be appointed as attorney general
Election of new public prosecutor head might have impact on independence judicial case ahead of trial
The ousting of the People’s Party from the government in Spain meant the dismissal of Julián Sánchez Melgar, the Spanish general prosecutor. Progressive attorney María José Segarra will be his replacement, the Catalan News Agency (ACN) learned from judicial sources. This might be especially relevant for the independence judicial case: should her approach to the 25 prosecuted leaders be different from that of her predecessor, the final verdict from the judge might also change.
María José Segarra is a member of a progressive union of public prosecutors, like the new Spanish justice minister, Dolores Delgado.
The independence case started on October 30, when the late prosecutor José Manuel Maza filed a lawsuit against Carles Puigdemont, all his cabinet members, and some former Parliament bureau members for rebellion, sedition, misuse of funds and others. These charges could carry sentences of up to 30 years in jail. On March 23, 25 officials were indicted by the Spanish Supreme Court, with 13 of them being prosecuted for rebellion and misuse of funds. Currently, nine of these leaders are in pre-trial jail, a decision which was also supported by the public prosecutor for all but the deposed home affairs minister.
The trial for the independence case is expected for this autumn. With the attorney general from the era People's Party, there was little doubt that rebellion and its accompanying prison time would be among the prosecution's requests. Indeed, the office of Julián Sánchez Melgar -Maza's replacement when he died last November- asked that the judge issue European and international arrest warrants for Puigdemont and five other officials. The prosecutor also made some efforts this spring to convince Germany’s authorities that the deposed Catalan president is guilty of rebellion, although the judge in land Schleswig-Holstein rejected this in April.
Impact of new attorney general on independence case
Yet if the new attorney general lowers the charges against Catalan leaders before the judge’s verdict, a potential sentence for rebellion would be less justifiable. Ultimately, the final decision will be for the judge to make. The court cannot pass a more severe sentence than that requested by the prosecutors. However, in the independence case, it's not only the attorney general office that is involved but also the far-right Vox political party as private prosecutor. It is unlikely that Vox drops the charges for rebellion.