18 November 2022: Dying Spain: A real legal mess; Pain-free embezzlement; Inequality insanity; Transgender madness; & Other depressing stuff.

Awake, for morning in the bowl of night has flung the stone 

that puts the stars to flight.

And, lo, has caught the sultan’s turret

In a noose of light!

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable

                 – Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’ 

Cosas de España/Galiza

‘Hard cases make bad laws’, they say in (British ) legal circles. I recalled this dictum when reading of the mess made by the Spanish government when trying to update Spain’s outdated/machistic laws on sexual aggression, especially rape. The “Full Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Act” removes the distinction between sexual abuse and assault, or rape, and places the focus on consent. While this is designed to protect victims by raising all sexual offences to the seriousness of rape if there was a lack of consent, it has had counterintuitive effects in some cases. And: A row has erupted after it emerged that the law is being used to reduce the sentences of convicted offenders. In one case, it seems, allowing a jailed rapist to go free after only 2 years. See the BBC on this here 

The (left-of-centre) government is also in trouble over its intention to reduce punishment for embezzlement/mis-use of funds when you don’t make any personal gain. This reflect pressure from Catalans but as it’s all too complex for me to understand, I’ve attached an article, in sort-of-English, below, for those truly interested.

Spain is dying. . . The number of births fell by 1.2%  in 2021 while the number of deaths decreased by 8.7%.

The word county (país) is sometimes used in Spain to merely mean a region. Most obviously in the case of The Basque Country. I was reminded of this when reading this was common too in England in the 19th century. So: In a 19th-century George Eliot novel, when someone goes to “another country” they are going to a different region. This usage lingers on in the 21st century only (I think) in “the Black Country” and “the West Country”.

There’’s an awful lot more English heard on the streets of Pv city than 20 years ago. This is probably down to the may Erasmus students and teaching Auxiliares now living here. Very predominantly young, American females, it seems to me. They have their own FB group, I believe.

The UK 

I read that in the UK there’s a threshold below which you don’t pay for packages coming from the EU. But there’s no such thing now when things arrive here from the UK.  Or from any other country outside the EU. My daughter in Madrid just had to pay €17 to get a hat valued at €6. Both Lenox Napier and I were early victims of this post-Brexit change. And we’re supposed to know how things are done here . . .

USA

Boris Johnson has trousered £250k for a single off-the-cuff speech to some Americans who don’t know better.

It is an unedifying spectacle. After they stood by Trump even as he pursued his campaign to overturn the results of the last election, many Republicans have now decided, in the face of evidence that the man is an electoral liability, to take a belatedly principled stand.

A Daily Telegraph (right-wing) columnist: It is the Republican primary electorate, not the various cadres of suddenly emboldened critics and treacherous former allies, who will decide Trump’s fate. The conundrum for the party is that he may have now conclusively proven to be unpalatable to the wider electorate, but for the hardcore Republican primary voters — maybe less than a fifth of the total general electorate — Trump may not have lost his aura. For all his many doubtless rebarbative qualities, he has demonstrated a unique ability to voice and channel the frustrations, hopes and fears of the many millions of Americans who feel abandoned and despised by the political, cultural and economic elites of the country. Those frustrations, hopes and fears haven’t gone away. 

The Way of the World

The grotesque inequality embodied by Musk Bezos and Zuckerberg is a threat to democracy, says The Guardian here.

Manchester City are said to be willing to pay Toni Kroos £230,000-a-week to join them next summer’ with the 32-year-old out of contract at Real mMadrid at the end of the season

Transgender madness . . .

Social Media

Twitter does has come virtues, says the brave Kathleen Stock.

For new readers: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

THE ARTICLE

The crime of embezzlement: how it is regulated and what its modification implies

Following the PSOE and United Podemos proposal to convert the crime of sedition into “aggravated public disorder”, the political debate focuses on embezzlement. have not brought personal gain, the initiative would have a political repercussion if possible greater than the suppression of sedition, given that neither in the sentence of the procés nor in that of the ERE is the defendant attributed to having become rich, which -if this is approved reforms could open the door to a review of their sentences.

The crime of embezzlement contemplates prison sentences for the authority or official who causes damage or appropriates “for himself or for a third party” public property, a wording that parties such as ERC or United Podemos have proposed to modify and that the Government has opened the door to study.

After the proposal of the socialist group and United Podemos convert the crime of sedition into “aggravated public disorder”, this Monday the political debate has focused on the second crime for which some Catalan independence leaders were also convicted by the procés : Embezzlement.

The 2015 reform

The crime of embezzlement was modified seven years ago, with the reform of the Penal Code approved in 2015 with the votes of the PP and the opposition’s block rejection. Until then, embezzlement required that the diverted public money result in personal or third-party profit.

The current regulation sanctions with sentences of two to six years to “the authority or public official” who incurs in unfair administration of public assets, that is, who causes damage to public funds having the power to administer them.

And the same sentences are collected for that authority or official who incurs in the crime of misappropriation of public assets, that is, who appropriates “for himself or for a third party” public funds.

As analyzed by the Supreme Court in a 2019 ruling, the new wording reproves “the conduct of the authority or public official in charge of public assets that (…) causes damage to the managed assets”, a “much broader” modality than the defined before the reform and in which -said the Supreme Court- “there are actions other than mere theft such as the undue assumption of obligations”.

The current Criminal Code includes a range of sentences from four to eight years in prison and from ten to twenty years of disqualification based on a series of assumptions, such as having caused “serious damage or hindrance to public service” or that the value of the appropriate effects is greater than 50,000 euros.

And it contemplates a sentence of up to 12 years in prison in the event that these assets exceed 250,000 euros.

Distinguish personal gain

Waiting for the possible proposals to materialize, United Podemos has announced that it is studying an amendment to the reform of the Penal Code so that the crime of embezzlement distinguishes when there is personal enrichment and when there is not, as explained this Monday in press conference the president of United Podemos in Congress, Jaume Asens.

Asens has justified that, although it is a “fundamental crime to prosecute corruption” that “must continue to exist”, the current Penal Code has a “very vague” wording and that gives rise to “abusive interpretations”.

A theory that they share from the ranks of ERC. Its president, Oriol Junqueras, convicted and pardoned for the “procés”, and the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonés, have defended that a reform be carried out, and the latter has recalled that the embezzlement was modified in 2015 by the PP to “allow things that were not crimes to become crimes” after the consultation of 9N 2014.

Within the framework of the judicial process opened by that consultation, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia ruled out judging the former Catalan president Artur Mas for embezzlement because the money was not destined for “uses outside” the public function, and recalled that in order to be able to accuse embezzlement should have been used by the embezzler himself or by a third party.

Who could benefit from a new reform?

The criticism of the opposition to a possible reform of the crime of embezzlement has not been long in coming, considering that it would benefit both the pro-independence leaders tried, prosecuted or fled for the cause of the procés as well as the former socialist leader José Antonio Griñán.

From the first group, Junqueras and three other former Catalan ministers were convicted by the Supreme Court of a crime of sedition in medial competition with another of embezzlement, and currently have their prison sentence commuted, but not disqualification (between 9 and 13 years).

For embezzlement, in addition to sedition, former President Carles Puigdemont and former Minister Toni Comín, fled from Justice, are being prosecuted; and also for embezzlement of various positions in his Government for participating in the logistics of the 1-O referendum, including the ERC deputies Josep Maria Jové and Lluís Salvadó.

Also for this crime, the former president of the Junta de Andalucía José Antonio Griñán was sentenced to 6 years in prison, in addition to prevarication, which does not imply a prison sentence for the ERE case. The reform that United We Can study on the crime of embezzlement could also affect their situation, according to parliamentary sources.

If it is confirmed that the modification is aimed at removing from the type of embezzlement those behaviors that have not brought personal gain, the initiative would have a political repercussion if possible greater than the suppression of sedition, since neither in the sentence of the procés nor in that of the ERE is attributed to the defendants having become rich, which -if this reform is approved- could open the door to a review of their sentences.

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