Spanish government open to modifying crime of misuse of public funds

Catalan president wants to "revert" changes made by People's Party executive in 2015 soon

Spain's presidency minister Félix Bolaños in a press conference in Madrid, January 2022
Spain's presidency minister Félix Bolaños in a press conference in Madrid, January 2022 / Pool Moncloa / Borja Puig de la Bellacasa
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

November 14, 2022 02:54 PM

November 14, 2022 04:49 PM

The Spanish presidency minister, Felix Bolaños, announced the possibility of modifying the crime of misuse of public funds when proposing that Congress replaces the crime of sedition.

The executive could use the opportunity to modify both crimes with the goal of "building coexistence," Bolaños explained during an interview with Spanish Cadena Ser radio on Monday morning.

Political parties will propose some changes before the cabinet will "study" what the groups suggest in order to make the penal code more "reasonable," the minister added.

"The Spanish Socialist Party is well aware that building a political framework of coexistence with Catalonia is good for everybody," he said before adding that "the decisions taken by the cabinet, such as the ones seen with the pardons for those pro-independence leaders jailed, could generate some concerns to some, but time has shown them it was a good decision."

On a similar note, Catalan president Pere Aragonès proposed that the charges of misuse of public funds should be "reverted" as soon as possible after the government led by the People's Party in 2015 implemented new parameters of the crime, he said during an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1.

For the Catalan leader, the change of law would mean going back to the previous definition that did not consider the non-binding independence consultation on November 9, 2014 a crime, but did consider the October 1, 2017 vote a crime after the PP's changes.

Leaders in 2014 were not charged with misuse of public funds, as opposed to the ones organizing the 2017 vote. 

"The People's Party changed the penal code in 2015 when they had an absolute majority, criminalizing what was not a crime when we had the 2014 self-determination referendum and making it a crime for 2017. This is why misuse of public funds exists," he said.

"The PP changed the penal code in 2015, criminalizing what was not a crime in the 2014 referendum and making it a crime for 2017," Catalan president Pere Aragonès said

"We now have to revert the situation, it is not easy but we have to do it," he said confirming that he believes a majority in Congress exists that will allow the process to go ahead.

Aragonès hopes the negotiations will be underway soon via the penal code amendments when replacing the crime of sedition with "aggravated public disorder."

Not related to budget, governing parties say

Contrary to what the opposition states, the Spanish presidency minister denied any connection between the reform of the crimes of sedition with the 2023 general budget agreement between the executive and pro-independent Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party.

ERC is currently the solo-government party in the Catalan cabinet and has been one of the key groups supporting the Spanish executive, including backing Pedro Sánchez for the bid to become the Spanish PM.

Aragonès also denied that the approval of the Spanish budget is related to greenlighting the Catalan and the Barcelona city council spending plans.