The imminent granting of pardons to the inmates of the you process It has once again placed this measure of grace granted by the Government in the spotlight. The newspaper library includes several cases that have generated controversy, some of them have even been later annulled by the Supreme Court. This was the case with the pardon granted by the Executive of Mariano Rajoy to Ramón Jorge Ríos, a kamikaze driver who circulated for five kilometers in the opposite direction on the AP-7, causing the death of José Alfredo Dolz (25 years old), who he was found head-on when overtaking and could not avoid the impact. The victim’s partner did not die, but was injured in the accident.
The events took place in 2003. Eight years later, in 2011, the defendant was sentenced by the Valencia Provincial Court to thirteen years in prison as the author of a driving offense with serious disregard for the lives of others in ideal competition with a crime of homicide. After the ratification of the ruling by the Supreme Court and with a sentence that was reduced to ten months in prison, the Minister of Justice at that time, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón pardoned him, without taking into account which judges, the Prosecutor’s Office and victims were opposed to that decision.
The controversy continued after the newspaper Information published that the lawyer who defended the condemned was Esteban Astarloa, brother of Ignacio Astarloa, Undersecretary of Justice from 2000 to 2002, during the Government of José María Aznar (PP); and a partner in the office – at the Uría Menéndez law firm – of a son of Gallardón. After an appeal and a campaign undertaken by the family of the deceased to protest the approval of the pardon, the Supreme Court ended up annulling this decision by not finding its “legal logic, excluding arbitrariness”, since the Executive did not specify the reasons that led to the adoption of the measure of grace.
“It was a judicial pilgrimage”
“It was a complicated judicial pilgrimage,” recalls Agustín Ferrer, the family’s lawyer. “We had handled the issue with some discretion, until the pardon arrived, which caused a rejection not only in the family, but also in society. It was not understood why a kamikaze was pardoned, taking into account that he had caused a death and that he had had a trial, he had been able to appeal to all judicial instances and defend his rights “, highlights the lawyer.
The traffic accident that claimed Dolz’s life occurred on December 1, 2003. That day, around 6:40 p.m., while the convict was driving on the A-7 in the direction of Alicante, “he hit a vehicle that it preceded him, hitting him on the back and without slowing down, hit him again, continued to circulate as if nothing had happened, “the Supreme Court’s ruling collects as proven facts. After that incident, Ríos “accessed the AP-7 at the Silla toll road”, at kilometer point 551-552 where he made a stop on the hard shoulder and after it he chose to “make a U-turn, beginning to circulate in the opposite direction between the two lanes. ”
The magistrates detail that the driving occurred “at high speed”, in such a way that the offender assumed “the high possibility that such conduct could lead to a result that was harmful to the life and physical integrity of other road users.” Despite the fact that “numerous drivers” who passed him “warned him with light and acoustic signals” of his reckless driving, “the defendant ignored, without putting on the hazard lights or using any other device to warn the rest of the people. road users “, nor did he perform” any evasion maneuvers “while driving in the opposite direction.
Throughout its journey, several drivers had to get out of their way, until finally “around 7:15 p.m., at kilometer 547, it collided head-on with a vehicle that was circulating correctly in its direction, resulting in the death of its driver. and serious injuries to the companion. ”
Dolz died of “a severe head injury, with destruction of vital centers.” His partner suffered fractures and contusions for which he needed 365 days of healing and which caused psychological consequences such as chronic post-traumatic stress and depression.
“The Government of Rajoy did not communicate anything to us”
The Government did not communicate to the family of the victim anything about the granting of the grace measure, Ferrer indicates. “We knew that a pardon was going to be requested and we opposed their granting as victims of the kamikaze. They did not call us, nor did the Government of Mariano Rajoy communicate anything to us. We had the notification that they had to release him because he had been pardoned. through the Provincial Court of Valencia “, adds the lawyer.
At the trial, the defendant’s defense argued that two years after the events the Castilla-La Mancha health service prescribed a medication that “among other uses is indicated for the treatment of” epilepsy. Argument that was rejected by the Provincial Court: “We do not know what could have led the defendant to carry out these acts, but of course what we cannot affirm is that if he did it, it was as a result of the fact that at that time he was going through any kind of crisis “.
The magistrates of the Provincial Court stopped in this argument, highlighting that it called “powerfully their attention” that this diagnosis could not be confronted in court because they have not “tried” – “even” – “to bring the doctor or doctors to trial. who did it “. “Moreover, according to the documentation provided to us, we cannot even affirm that these specialists were categorically speaking about it,” they added. Months later, the Supreme Court ratified this thesis, noting that the accused “had full knowledge of the possibility of” a homicide.
Gallardón’s alleged epilepsy questioned
Despite the detailed assessment that the magistrates made of the convicted man’s medical diagnosis, it is striking that the person responsible for granting the pardon, Minister Ruiz-Gallardón, justified his decision in an interpellation in Congress alleging that Ríos obtained the measure grace because “he was diagnosed with epilepsy by the Public Health Service of Castilla-La Mancha.” As detailed in a parliamentary response to deputy Ximo Puig, currently president of the Generalitat Valenciana, that medical assessment motivated the request for pardon.
Gallardón also alleged in Congress that the driver had no record and was not driving “under the influence of alcohol.” In addition, he assured that “the penitentiary center in which he was admitted reported favorably, verifying that in the nine years that have elapsed since the events and when he was admitted to prison he had not committed any crime, he repented, he was reintegrated socially and there was no prognosis of recidivism” . In that answer, it was obvious that the decision had been made with contrary reports from the Provincial Court, the prosecution and the victims, as published by El País. In the Government, not all the ministers supported this decision, the head of the Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, stressed that the granting of grace measures to those convicted of crimes against road safety was not a policy of the Executive.
“That decision went against everything that the general direction of traffic was doing in its campaigns,” recalls Ferrer, which affects how the DGT’s advertising has been leading “to a progressive toughening of penalties.”
In his parliamentary interpellation, the Minister of Justice assured that the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had created precedents, by granting a pardon for a road safety crime in September 2011. In addition, Gallardón also disassociated himself from the relationship his son had with the law firm that defended the kamikaze driver. The law firm where the lawyers work “is something that does not appear in the pardon files and this minister did not know about it,” said the head of the Justice portfolio.
Gallardón’s son disassociates himself from this case
For its part, José Ruiz-Gallardón Utrera, son of the former minister, assures in statements to elDiario.es that his participation in this case “was null.” “Neither I was aware of the matter. My father did not know that this man’s lawyer worked in the same office as me,” he adds. From Uría Menéndez they refuse to make assessments about this procedure.
In December 2012 the pardon was published in the BOE, the Government commuted the sentence to Ríos for a fine of just over 4,300 euros. Months later, the Supreme Court annulled this decision and the condemned man had to return to prison. The lawyer for the deceased’s family assures that for now they only have “notification” that the sentence imposed by the courts is being carried out.