l Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, yesterday announced the creation of a tax for appealing against sentences, the reform of the Children's Act so that juveniles and adults can be tried together for serious crimes, a study into reviewable life sentences and his intention to revert to the 1985 abortion act, thus overturning the previous government's reform of the law.

These are some of the measures advanced by Gallardón in his first appearance in Congress, where he presented a package of legislative proposals aimed at modernising the law, making it more efficient and eliminating excessive litigation, which is considered one of the major problems of the Spanish justice system.

If Gallardón's suggestions are adopted, people wishing to appeal against a sentence would have to assume the cost of the second trial, although the amount deposited would be refunded to them if their appeal were to be successful.

Furthermore, he proposed amendments to the Children's Act (Ley del Menor) so that minors and adults could be investigated and prosecuted all together in cases of serious offences. The minister made it clear that juvenile offenders would “not lose their rights”, but that cases like the Marta del Castillo murder enquiry or the 11-M attacks, when “El Cuco” and “El Gitanillo” respectively, were tried separately, would be affected.

Gallardón also announced that the Government is considering the possible establishment of reviewable permanent life imprisonment, in line with other European countries, which would be used only in very exceptional circumstances where offenders had caused great public alarm.

With regard to the abortion law, Gallardón made it clear that he intended to bring back the 1985 law that allows women to abort up to the 12th week in cases of rape, up to 22 weeks in cases of severe malformation of the foetus, and at any time in cases of proven risk to the mental or physical health of the mother. Current abortion law allows any woman to abort freely up to 14 weeks of gestation.