Torrevieja’s No 2 Criminal Court has acquitted the former mayor of Torrevieja, Pedro Hernández Mateo. The judge threw out charges brought against him for the violation of civil rights after he failed to hold 13 plenary sessions between 2003 and 2007 whilst he was the mayor.
The complaint was presented in 2006 by the current mayor, José Manuel Dolón, who at the time was an opposition councillor
He argued that that the fact that the plenary meetings were not held prevented the right of participation in the public affairs of the town by opposition councillors and by members of the public.
According to the ruling, Hernández Mateo, who is currently serving a sentence of 11 years of disqualification from serving in public office, for rigging a public contract, failed to comply with the Law which states that a municipality larger than 20,000 residents, is obliged to carry out a monthly plenary meeting.
The judge said that the absence of these meetings may constitute “a lack of respect for the opposition, but he fails to see it as a violation of civil rights. As such he felt that there are not sufficient grounds to find him guilty of a criminal offence, particularly as the plenary meetings all fell during major holiday periods.
He also maintained that this type of action could have been punished by the general public at the polls.
The acquittal has come after more than a decade of procedure but it may still be appealed.