Wednesday, January 14, 2009


El presidente del Gobierno, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ha asegurado que el Ejecutivo dialogará con las asociaciones de jueces para analizar su situación, pero ha advertido de que su objetivo será defender el interés general y que no habrá subidas salariales por encima de las presupuestadas.

Yes, the judges in Spain are considering taking strike action. The dispute is not over pay as such but what the judicial authorities see as a lack of resources and personnel which is causing huge backlogs in the justice system.

One victim of this dispute is the Mari Luz case. The child who was kidnapped and then murdered in Huelva on January 13 last year, before her body was found floating in the city’s river estuary 54 days later, is now at the centre of the legal dispute.

Sevilla judge Rafael Tirado is at the heart of the bitter row because he allowed the alleged killer of Mari Luz, convicted paedophile Santiago Del Valle, to remain free. Had he been jailed as sentenced then Mari Luz would be alive this day.

The judicial authority, the CGPJ, held a disciplinary hearing then an appeal and judged Tirado’s offence to be not extremely serious so he has only been fined 1,500 euros instead of being barred from office. The argument goes that he failed to imprison Del Valle because of the overburden of work in the courts. This is the very point that the judges and court workers are up in arms over so hence Mari Luz is dragged in to the debate – as if her poor parents had not suffered enough.

The government argues, with some justification, that judges do not have “the luxury” of being able to strike because they are at the very foundations of the power of the State. “What if the government went on strike?” they cry – better not to go there.

But what if the criminals went on strike? No crime and you would have no need for judges or the courts.

Would the government then have to offer incentives for us to break the law?

Would we see advertising urging us to go shop lifting or house breaking?

Would murders be offered – kill a person and kill another one free!

Criminals of the world unite – you have nothing to loose but your prison sentences.

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