Uniform rejection and demands for resignation. Seven associations of judges and prosecutors have this Monday called for the resignation of Spain's justice minister, Rafael Catalá, after his criticism of the judge who voted against the majority verdict in the so-called Manada "wolf pack" case.
"We all know that that judge has some unique problem", the minister said this morning in an interview on radio station Cadena COPE about Ricardo González, the judge who dissented from the majority verdict, voting to completely acquit the five accused. His colleagues voted to convict them of sexual abuse, but not rape.
"Legal interference" by Catalá
The seven bodies accuse Rajoy's government of "interfering" in questions which "correspond exclusively to the General Council of the Judiciary [CGPJ]". The minister had said he was "surprised" that the CGPJ hadn't acted "preventively" with regards to the judge.
"The justice minister has publicly insinuated that preventive action should have been taken against the judge who issued the individual vote, expressing that the judge 'has a problem' and that 'everyone knows it'", something which the statement says "publicly sows doubts about the said judge's ability and condition". They claim such comments are "reckless" for a justice minister to make.
The statement was released early this afternoon, within hours of the minister's controversial statements.
Of the associations that have signed the petition, four are made up of jurists, three of prosecutors: Asociación profesional de la Magistratura (Professional Association of the Magistracy", Jueces para la Democracia (Judges for Democracy), Asociación Francisco de Vitoria (Francisco de Vitoria Association), Foro Judicial Independiente (Independent Judicial Forum), Asociación de Fiscales (Association of Prosecutors), Unión Progresista de Fiscales (Progressive Union of Prosecutors) y la Asociación Profesional Independiente de Fiscales (Independent Professional Association of Prosecutors).
A "true danger"
The associations say that the problem isn't just the minister's comment on the judge, but the fact that "tomorrow [the comment] could be on any action which isn't to the liking of the minister or his government".
They say, specifically, that "this is the real danger", something they consider of "use" of legal decisions by Rajoy's executive, going as far as suggesting an attempt of "deliberate confusion of electoral interests with what should be his task as a member of a state power".
Navarre judges join in
Judges from Navarre, the autonomous community where the case was heard, have also expressed their disagreement with Catalá's comment and called for his resignation. The describe the minister's attitude as "especially scandalous" and noted that he is the "only minister condemned [by a vote in Congress] in our democracy".
"These demonstrations, which don't fit within the responsible performance of his role as justice minister, should cause his immediate resignation," they conclude.