Five days after the agreement between the PP and the PSOE to reshuffle the governing body of the Spanish judiciary was made public, the PP’s spokesperson in the Senate, Ignacio Cosidó sent a WhatsApp text message to senators from his party in response to the criticisms made both by the public and within his party. According to Elespanol.com, Cosidó described the changes to the General Council of the Judiciary (GCJ) as "positive" for the PP, since, "following negotiations, the PP has 9 members, plus the president (10) and the PSOE has 11".
"In other words —the PP’s spokesperson went on to say— numerically we’re on a par, but we’ve got a remarkable president [...], a great judge with such a capacity for leadership and authority that the votes won’t be 11-10 but more like 21-0, while we’ll also be controlling the second chamber [the criminal court, the only court with powers to prosecute MPs, senators and ministers] from behind the scenes and presiding over court 61 [the special court whose powers include the ability to ban political parties, as occurred with Herri Batasuna]".
Cosidó welcomed Manuel Marchena’s appointment, though he made no mention of the fact that his appointment will change the composition of the court which is set to try the Catalan political prisoners for rebellion. Marchena was originally intended to preside over the court and was to have delivered the verdict, a duty which now falls to the more liberal judges Andrés Martínez Arrieta and Susana Polo. This fact in particular has generated unease among the PP ranks, along with the appointment of José Ricardo de Prada as one of the GCJ’s new members, for his role in having presided over the Gürtel case, in which he accused the PP of having benefitted from a graft ring. De Prada’s ruling also called into question Mariano Rajoy’s credibility when giving evidence as a witness in the case. The ruling in the Gürtel case ultimately led to the PSOE successfully pursuing a vote of no confidence in Mariano Rajoy.
Regarding this issue, Cosidó admitted that "the only things that might not sound too good are the appointments of some of the PSOE’s judges, but we’d made a deal not to veto nominees, so as not to prolong the process [...]. In any case, removing De Prada from the National Court is a good move. Better that he’s a member of the GCJ than handing down sentences against the PP". Cosidó ended his WhatsApp message with what appeared to be a swipe at the press, stating that these days he’d read articles containing "ignorance bordering on the criminal", and that he was willing to offer his colleagues "more details”, if they wished. In his opinion, the reshuffle was a positive move: according to Cosidó, "It was a great move that I was able to observe at first hand. At stake were future appointments of two-thirds of the Supreme Court and hundreds of jobs throughout the judiciary, vital to the PP and for the future of Spain".
This Monday Cosidó claimed that his WhatsApp message to MPs in his party about the control of the GCJ following the agreement between the government and the PSOE had been "misinterpreted", although he admitted that the language he used was "unfortunate". Speaking to journalists, Cosidó admitted that his choice of words was "unfortunate", while claiming that his words were "misinterpreted" since the PP is not going to control the Council, not least because, "it’s not possible".
The PP’s spokesperson stated that his message was an attempt to highlight the fact that the president of the GCJ is a person with "moral authority" -the Spanish government and the PP have agreed that the post will be occupied by Judge Manuel Marchena-, which "will ensure that the decisions are as unanimous as possible" adding that it "safeguards the independence of the judiciary". According to Cosidó, "this was what I meant, it didn’t mean that it gives us control because, among other things, it’s not true", before going on to say that he did not wish to comment on the fact that the message had been sent to a group of MPs belonging to the PP.
Cosidó also declared that he had not detected any disquiet among members of the PP over the agreement with Pedro Sánchez’s government and that he hadn’t sent the message in an attempt to placate them. "It’s not an ideal agreement but it’s possible and necessary", he stated. In the message Cosidó sent on Saturday, the spokesman also argued for "the removal" of Judge José Ricardo De Prada from the National Court, claiming that he is "better as a member of the court than handing down sentences against the PP". "It’s better that he doesn’t issue verdicts", he reiterated, recalling that it is an opinion that his party has expressed publicly in Congress.
Former President Carles Puigdemont has already reacted on Twitter by expressing his astonishment, criticising the lack of the separation of powers in Spain once more.
Earlier, Carles Puigdemont’s lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, criticised the lack of impartiality of the second chamber of the court, which is set to hear the 1-O case.
The vice-president of the Catalan government, Pere Aragonès, also took advantage of this leak to emphasize that "the separation of powers is an illusion” [in Spain].