The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will again grant 30,000 euros for legal assistance to Spanish citizens facing death penalty sentences around the world during the 2021 fiscal year.
According to the Order, signed last May 19 by the general director of Spaniards Abroad and Consular Affairs, Juan Duarte Cuadrado, and published last Tuesday in the Official State Gazette (BOE), the purpose of the subsidies is the granting of financial aid to assist in the legal defense of Spanish citizens under trial abroad for crimes that in the applicable legal system may be punishable by death penalty.
These subsidies may also be used in the processes of review or repetition of trials, appeals of condemnatory sentences or requests for pardon or commutation of sentence in favor of those who have already been sentenced to the death penalty. The beneficiaries of this aid may be the individuals of Spanish nationality facing the death penalty and other Spanish or foreign individuals or institutions with private legal personality, domiciled in Spain or abroad.
The Government’s contributions in this area began in 2009, when, for the first time in history, the General State Budget incorporated a budget item (in the section corresponding to Foreign Affairs) of no less than 500,000 euros “for assistance to citizens facing death penalty sentences”. That first amount, however, suffered a radical cut in August 2009 (in the midst of the international crisis) by the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which left it at only 60,000 euros. Since then, the evolution has been one of decline or, at least, stagnation: €50,000 in 2010, €60,000 in 2011 and €30,000 per year since 2012 and to date.
Until 2017, the funds earmarked for this purpose were granted to the defense of Pablo Ibar, whose death sentence, handed down in 2000 by a Florida court, was overturned in February 2016 by the Supreme Court of that state and commuted to life imprisonment in the second trial, which concluded in May 2019.
In 2017, the game was split between Ibar and Artur Segarra, sentenced to death in Thailand in April of that year for the premeditated murder of a businessman also Spanish, David Bernat. In August 2020, Thailand’s king commuted Segarra’s death sentence to life imprisonment, which opens the door for the Spaniard, imprisoned since February 2016, to request his transfer to a prison in Spain. In 2019, the death sentence was also commuted for the Spanish-Bolivian Víctor Eduardo Parada, imprisoned in Malaysia.
Therefore, there is currently only one Spanish citizen sentenced to death, Ahmed el Saadany Ghaly, who resided almost twenty years in Spain and was imprisoned and sentenced in Egypt (his country of origin) for the murder of brother-in-law on December 13, 2016. Several sources have assured that during the trial he was not assisted by a lawyer and, according to Amnesty International, “he was tortured and threatened that his family would be tortured”. The Spanish government has officially asked the Egyptian authorities to commute his death sentence.