I have quoted work by my colleague Mercedes Rosello before, she is a PhD researcher in fisheries law, hence her views on the recent failure of the Spanish courts to criminally charge members of the Vidal family for their involvement as beneficial owners of notorious IUU vessels, are of interest to me. I know from a first source that the lawyers of this family are some of the most ruthless people he has ever seen, so no doubt all technicalities possible would have been exploited for this trial. Here is what Mercedes had to say:
The Spanish press has reported that the criminal case commenced against several individuals connected to the Vidal conglomerate has failed following an appeal to the Spanish Supreme Tribunal. According to the latest media report the appeal succeeded as the Tribunal declined jurisdiction on the basis that the national law of the accused is insufficient to attach criminality to an act committed on a territory where it was not classified as a crime.
The case highlights the current underdevelopment of the legal bases required for the establishment of transnational criminal accountability of individuals in respect of illegal and unregulated fishing activities. It also suggests administrative and economic routes to be more resilient and expedient policy choices at the present time, pending further international work regarding the assignation of criminality to illegal fishing activities.
The criminal case was separate to the administrative proceedings commenced by the Spanish Fisheries Secretariat earlier this year, which ended in the imposition of several fines and suspensions. Mercedes blogged about this in March.
Transnational crime is definitely an area that needs research and juridical development, I feel a bit sorry for the Spanish prosecutors that had to see the binning of their case. Furthermore, the case creates a worrisome instance of jurisprudence, that can be exploited by other fisheries syndicates.