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The Constitutional Court, with center-left sensitivity, analyzes the pardons granted by Boric in Chile


The opposition took to constitutional justice seven of the 13 pardons that the president granted at the end of 2022 and that unleashed a political storm that does not go away

Gabriel Boric, during a meeting with the country's main business union in Santiago de Chile, on March 14, 2023. Presidency of Chile (EFE / Presidency of Chile)

The pardons that the left-wing Chilean president Gabriel Boric granted at the end of December 2022 to 13 convicts –12 of them associated with crimes committed during the social outbreak of October 2019–, caused a political storm that, three months after being dictates, is far from abating.

The opposition took seven of these cases to the Constitutional Court (TC), which estimates that it will rule this Tuesday on whether or not they are unconstitutional.

Although the worst scenario for the Executive is that the decrees are annulled, it is a body that, for the first time since 1980, has a composition of judges who are mostly center-left (five out of eight).

This could eventually give the ruling party a breather, although only on the legal front.

Historically, the TC has been highly criticized by the Chilean left for some of its conservative rulings or for paralyzing cases of human rights violations committed during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) pending their resolution.

In 2022, however, with the retirement of two of its members and their replacement, a new balance was generated within.

The first relevant pronouncement in which the Boric Executive has a genuine interest will be in the review of his pardons.

Boric announced the pardons on December 30, 2022, and his decision was quickly questioned by different sectors.

Several of those convicted, it was learned shortly after, had criminal records that were not related to crimes linked to the social revolt.

The president himself recognized then that the process was "messy", which had the consequence that in January the Minister of Justice, Marcela Ríos, and the president's chief of staff, Matías Meza-Lopehandía, one of his men from greater confidence, which played an important role in the freedoms granted.

It was not the only effect, since the president's determination occurred when his Minister of the Interior, Carolina Tohá, was working on a security agreement with the opposition that, after the president's decision, cut off the dialogue.

That instance was key,

Two months later, last Thursday, when the Constitutional Court heard the arguments of the opposition and the Chilean State, the Ex-Ante outlet revealed the technical files of some of those pardoned.

Those documents indicated that the Gendarmerie, the body in charge of prison custody, had issued negative reports regarding pardoning six of the 13 convicted.

Although these opinions are not binding on the prerogative of the Presidents of the Republic, it opened new criticisms regarding the reasons Boric had for making that determination.

On an unexpected flank, the former socialist president Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006) joined the questions.

In an interview this Monday with the evening newspaper La Segunda, Lagos said that he did not understand why Jorge Mateluna – the only one in the group who was convicted of crimes other than social revolt – had been pardoned “again”, since during his government he He himself had decreed his release.

Mateluna was part of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR), a movement that sought to overthrow Pinochet by force and which, although it was dismantled in democracy, some of its members continued to operate.

At the time of being pardoned by Boric in 2022, he was serving a 16-year prison sentence for a bank robbery in 2013. On January 3, Boric assured that he was convinced of his innocence, which caused him a harsh and unprecedented response of the Supreme Court.

In a statement, the judges indicated that "neither the President of the Republic nor Congress can, in any case, exercise judicial functions."

The balance in the TC

Although it was not the Government that took the case of pardons to the Constitutional Court (TC), the Executive has set its expectations in the determination that the judges take in each of the cases that the opposition questioned.

It is the formula with which the Executive tries to appease the criticism of the president's determination to release this group of people, precisely when Chile is going through a security problem, a matter of paramount importance for the citizenry.

The court, although it has 10 judges, will rule with only eight, since it has two vacancies pending.

Boric's ruling party has two options in case of being successful in the sentence.

On the one hand, that the TC rejects the opposition's request by five votes to three.

On the other, that there is a tie of four against four.

In a balanced scenario, the law allows the person who presides over the Constitutional Court to cast a casting vote, which means that he votes twice.

It is a power that has been useful for various governments, from the administration of former socialist president Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018) to that of former right-wing president Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022).

Today the president of the TC is Minister Nancy Yáñez, whom Boric appointed in court in April 2022, a month after he took office at La Moneda.

The next flank of the Government will be the decision before a new request for pardon of a person convicted of crimes during the social outbreak, which will shortly arrive at the desk of the Minister of Justice, Luis Cordero.

It also has a negative report from the Gendarmerie.

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-21

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