Pedro Hernández Mateo

After weeks of silence on the matter, maintaining a safe distance in what could be classed as one of the most controversial support campaigns of his career so far, the Mayor of Torrevieja, Eduardo Dolón, has issued a statement supporting clemency for his former lead and mentor, Pedro Hernández Mateo, offering his backing to a petition to keep the convicted former mayor from serving his prison sentence. In his statement of support, Dolón said, “I think everyone recognizes, even those who hate him, Pedro did a lot for this town”.

A signatory campaign was launched by a family member of Hernández Mateo, which was also not offering a particularly favourable opinion of the guilty politician, accompanied by the quote, “did he do anything wrong, probably”, but continuing to maintain that despite being found guilty of corruption in this case, Hernández Mateo had done a lot for the city of Torrevieja during his time in office.

Local spokesperson for the Partido Popular, Joaquín Albadalejo, said that he respected the decision of the justice department, but admitted that Hernández Mateo “has not been perfect and we have found that he has made mistakes”, his work for the city does “not deserve to be in jail”, whilst calling the prison sentence confirmed by every level of the judicial system through the appeals process, “too cruel”.

As a number of non-profit and social groups have now been seen to filter their “support” siding through their members down, the Los Verdes green party, who brought the case to light initially, are now accusing the ruling government team of bullying and harassment, saying that the town hall are “blackmailing” groups to sign the petition, who might consider a risk of a withdrawal in subsidy and grants. The group also state that signing the petition “on behalf of others”, as has been the case on a number of occasions, is not a true and valid picture of genuine support.

At this time, neither the Regional or National PP administration have offered any statement in support or denial of the position of the campaign for a pardon, but a principal Spanish newspaper has been doing their own survey of the people of Torrevieja to canvas opinion from the residents and voters of the city. What might come as a surprise to the administration playing the game of supporting convicts is that, currently, 87% of those who have voted on their survey say that Hernández Mateo should be sent to prison and should indeed serve the term dictated by the courts. In fact, only 9% of those who voted wanted to see him remain free, with 4% undecided.

With many observers and commentators stating that throughout history there are countless documented cases of criminals and “baddies” doing good deeds prior to getting caught for their illegal activities, it is still a fact that it is the courts who have found him guilty and he used his right to appeal, a process which only served to confirm his guilt. For whatever the reason might be, if he does remain unpunished and free then many more people will consider this to be a blatant abuse of the justice system in a time when the central and regional governments are vowing to clamp down on political corruption for which hundreds of cases are currently working their way through the courts.

Hernández Mateo was sentenced to 3 years in prison, with the Supreme Court handing their final decision back to the High Court who are believed to be making arrangements for his incarceration having been found guilty in this case of rigging a contract to ensure that his own chosen company benefitted from the public tender process to be awarded the contract.

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