HomeEuropeSpain’s Senate backs penal code reform which helps Catalan leaders

Spain’s Senate backs penal code reform which helps Catalan leaders

A controversial reform of Spain’s penal code that is set to benefit Catalan independence leaders has been approved by both chambers of Parliament, after making it past the Senate on Thursday.

“The Spanish Parliament has definitively approved the bill for the adaptation of criminal legislation to EU regulations and the reform of crimes against moral integrity, public disorder and smuggling of dual-use weapons,” the Spanish Senate tweeted.

The bill was approved after a close vote, with 140 senators in favor and 118 against.

The new law, which removes the crime of sedition from the Spanish penal code, and reduces sentencing for that of misuse of public funds, is set to benefit some Catalan independence leaders who were involved in a failed attempt to secede from Spain in 2017 and prosecuted under existing laws at that time.

Among these is the former president of Catalonia and current European lawmaker, Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to avoid extradition after the aborted independence bid, and has been charged with sedition in Spain.

Under the new penal code, sedition — which used to have a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment — is replaced by “aggravated public disorder.” The the maximum sentence for misusing public funds is lowered from six to four years, but only in cases where money was not misappropriated for personal gain.

The reform was accepted by the Spanish Congress last Thursday, where it sparked rebellion among some allies to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist government, and criticism from the opposition.

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