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11 de juny 2018

Interview: Chief Public Prosecutor, Julián Sánchez Melgar

Translated by M.S. from the original interview in El Confidencial with Chief Public Prosecutor, Julián Sánchez Melgar (extract): https://www.elconfidencial.com/amp/espana/2018-06-09/fiscal-general-sanchez-melgar-puigdemont-europa_1576231/

*****To read the translation click below on "Més informació" *****


"We could not let Puigdemont walk around Europe without doing anything" 


09.06.2018 21: 00 H.

He has been the shortest Chief Public Prosecutor in Spain's history. Julián Sánchez Melgar jokes about the duration of his short stage at the head of one of the most complicated institutions of the State, which he has led for just six months since the death of Juan Manuel Maza, until the triumph of the motion of no-confidence won by Pedro Sánchez. "If one has to get into the Guinness book, well there we are," he says with a smile. He faces his return to the Supreme Court with mixed feelings: regret for the things he leaves to do and joy for the return to the Criminal Chamber of the High Court, which considers his home. Now he is in office awaiting the appointment, by the new Government, of his successor.

His concern with the criminal charges on Catalonia, which has been the centre of his fleeting mandate, is evident from the interview he has given to this newspaper. He defends the decision to pursue Carles Puigdemont and the rest of the international fugitives - you could not "allow" anything else - but leave the door open to a change of criteria on the crime of rebellion at a later point in the proceedings. It also shows the urgent desire that the institution that has known from within these months reach a total disengagement from the Executive branch. Judge between prosecutors, strongly defends the need for the instruction to become dependent on the Public Ministry, putting in place - of course- strengthened mechanisms of independence.

When asked to review the time elapsed since taking possession, he recognizes that there have been "tough, very tough" moments compensated by other satisfying ones. "It has been a stage of unexpected intensity", he explains and refers immediately to "the international and national incidences in the procedures related to the challenge in Catalonia", especially in Germany and Belgium. In this period three hearings have also been concentrated before the Justice Commission of the Congress of Deputies, the elections to the Fiscal Council and many appointments of provincial chief prosecutors and superior prosecutors.

"I consider it an activity that is both exciting and exciting, and I have an enriching personal experience, and I consider it an honour to have been at the head of the Public Prosecutor's Office, even though it was only a short time ago," he says. Regarding his successor or successor, he trusts that he will act "in a calm, rigorous and proportionate way, guided only by the law". Looking ahead, he defends a mandate of at least five years to break the close relationship between successive governments and the figure of the top boss of the Prosecutor's Office.

QUESTION. Much of the effort in recent months has focused on joint work with the prosecutors of Belgium and Germany after requests for delivery of the fugitives. What do you think of the Belgian decision? Do you trust Germany to agree to the delivery of Puigdemont? In what terms?

ANSWER. The Belgian decision, although in my opinion it is very strict, must be respected, like all judicial decisions. We have raised the possibility, if appropriate, of its reproduction, although I believe that this is the decision of the magistrate instructor of the Supreme Court. In any case, I believe that the admission of the OEDE submitted to Germany proceeds and I hope that the delivery is made in the terms in which it has been requested, for that reason it has been done. I am very satisfied with our relations with the German Public Prosecutor and of the work they have done in the activation of this international cooperation mechanism. I said it publicly a few dates ago and I repeat it now. The Spanish Prosecutor's Office pursued from the first moment, as is well known, the activation of Euro-orders. We could not let one or more people involved in serious crimes walk around Europe without the Prosecutor's Office doing anything.

P. As regards the defendants in Spain, nine people remain in jail and have repeatedly reuqested to be moved to Catalan prisons closer to home. Do you see that their requests can be accepted?

R. This is neither something on which I at this moment should say anything, nor a matter that falls within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Prosecutor's Office.

Q. In your opinion, did the defendants commit a crime of rebellion? Do you think you will be judged for this or for other crimes such as sedition or cooperation?

R. The instruction is initiated by some facts and the directione of the instruction is specficially to collect evidence in order, in the oral trial, to defend the prosecutor's position. The investigation has not yet concluded and I will not be here when that happens. So at this moment it is not possible to address this issue.

Q. In a few days there will be a new Chief Public  Prosecutor, proposed by the Socialist government. Do you expect changes in the criteria to direct the prosecution? And what about the Catalan case?

A The situation in Catalonia has been a topic of great importance in the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in recent times. It must be borne in mind that when we speak about the legal approach we have to consider, the facts that affect non-immune persons and take place in the territory of Catalonia are subject to procedures in Catalonia's High Prosecutor's Office or the Barcelona Provincial Prosecutor's Office. Then there are those that have to do with crimes for which a specialized competence is foreseen, such as crimes against higher bodies. In this case, we are in the National Court. And finally, those in which immune persons are being investigated, and this is the competence of the Supreme Court, in which the Supreme Court Prosecutor's Office - four prosecutors - is also doing a magnificent job.

So we are talking about a deployment of prosecutors in a number of bodies. In this situation, the General Prosecutor's Office coordinates the proceedings. You asks me about the next Chief Public Prosecutor's demeanour, and you will understand that elementary reasons of prudence advise that we wait for the designated person to state his or her position. For my part, I have always said that between the opportunity and appropriateness, we were always going to do what was legally appropriate. The Office of the Prosecutor, of course, will continue acting in a calm, rigorous and proportionate manner, guided only by the law.


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