Spain’s highest court has upheld the state’s right to impose its own agenda on the judicial system, rejecting the opposition’s argument that the country has an international agenda.
The Supreme Court’s ruling comes just days after a judge in the northern city of Granada, which borders Brazil, refused to grant an appeal against the state-appointed prosecutor’s decision to dismiss a case against a member of the ruling Socialist party.
The decision on Monday comes as Spanish lawmakers are set to debate an amendment to a controversial law that aims to end impunity for corruption, with the government’s ruling centre-right coalition threatening to scrap the law if it fails to pass.
The court’s ruling was based on the case of the former Catalan regional government chief of staff, Jordi Sanchez, who was charged with a number of offences including money laundering and receiving bribes.
It also says that a number in the state administration, including the president, Alberto Fernandez, have committed offences of “serious misconduct” in their dealings with Mr Sanchez.
The prosecutor’s office said Mr Sanchez, 57, had been acquitted of all charges.
The case against Mr Sanchez was launched by the conservative Socialist party in 2013, accusing him of accepting money for the support of the region’s mayor, Ada Colau.
A few months later, a judge dismissed his appeal, saying that his actions had taken place in “the context of a political struggle between the Socialist Party and the government”.
“The defendant was an elected member of parliament who acted with an objective and determined political objective to obtain a salary from the region,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
“He has not sought to obtain anything for himself.
He has done nothing in the past or the present, but he was an honest politician.
He did not commit any criminal acts, nor did he engage in any illegal behaviour.”
Mr Sanchez was released from jail last month after spending four years in jail.
Mr Fernandez, 61, was elected president in 2015 on a pledge to reform Spain’s political system, which he said was riddled with corruption.
Mr Sanchez has said he is innocent and has said that the government is trying to cover up corruption scandals.
The ruling said there was no evidence that the region had sought to corrupt the country’s legal system, and that the case was not about Mr Sanchez being a political “hero”.
The ruling came after a court in Granada rejected an appeal by the opposition, arguing that the president was not a “national hero”.
The government had argued that the judge was acting in the public interest because he had been convicted of crimes for which he was exonerated by Spain’s Constitutional Court, which had ruled that the prosecution had not established that the former mayor committed the crimes.
The opposition had also challenged the legality of the judge’s decision because it was based solely on the prosecution’s case.
It is the second time in less than a year that the Supreme Court has ruled against the government.
In November, the court rejected a request by a Spanish politician to have the country suspended from the European Union.