On Thursday the promoter of the disciplinary action by Spain’s General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Antonio Fonseca-Herrero, requested that Barcelona judge Santiago Vidal be dismissed. Judge Vidal, a magistrate of the Provincial Court of Barcelona, has allegedly committed two major violations of the Spanish law of the judiciary: “involvement in activities incompatible” with the position of judge or magistrate and “inexcusable neglect” of his judicial duties. Last week the Prosecutor’s Office requested the same penalty for Vidal.
Fonseca-Herrero believes that “entirely on his own accord, Vidal has been an active participant” in a group whose purpose is to draft a Catalan Constitution. According to Fonseca’s statement, the group seeks to offer the draft Constitution to “those who promoted a consultation on the so-called right to decide and Catalan independence, even if it was never held”.
Fonseca-Herrero goes on to say that Vidal “has shown his support for Catalan independence in public on a number of occasions and has endorsed political initiatives by Catalonia’s institutions and private groups to that effect”. Furthermore, he claims that the Catalan judge “pondered and deemed legitimate to comply with Spain’s laws and Constitution, but he accepted and justified civil disobedience against the law, the Constitution and the decisions of the Constitutional Court on the process of Catalan independence”.
Antonio Fonseca believes that all judges are duty-bound by the Oath of Office they take, which “requires all members of the judiciary to refrain from any action that jeopardizes the values and principles on which the Constitution rests, while stating their obligation to uphold them”.
In addition to that, Fonseca claims that Vidal’s actions cannot be justified by the right to free speech because “the dignity, integrity and independence of the judiciary is a constitutional good that limits the freedom of speech of all members of the judiciary”. Fonseca finally concludes that Santiago Vidal “has repeatedly and deliberately chosen to ignore his duty of loyalty to the constitution and the laws, which is exceedingly grave for someone in his position. These violations are gross enough to be punished with dismissal from the judiciary”.
Vidal has received Fonseca’s statement and he now has eight days to state his case. Sources within the CGPJ have told this newspaper that Antonio Fonseca will submit his final decision to the CGPJ’s discipline committee, who have the last say on the matter. If the committee agrees with Fonseca and the Prosecutor, Vidal’s dismissal will be decided in a plenary session of the CGPJ. Regardless of their final decision, Vidal will be able to appeal before Spain’s Supreme Court.
ACN (Catalan News Agency)