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12 de març 2019

The Supreme Judge readmits judge Santi Vidal four years after his suspension

The judge and ex-senator of ERC was suspended for three years by the CGPJ in 2015 for having taken part in dawing up a Catalan constitution in his spare time. The CGPJ extended the punishment a further year. Here is an English translation (by MS) of the article, with VilaWeb's permission.
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Source: https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/santi-vidal-jutge-carrera-judicial-suprem/

The judge and former ERC senator Santiago Vidal has been re-admitted to the judiciary, reports VilaWeb, after a four-year suspension for having taken part in a working group to prepare a proposal for a Catalan constitution. The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled today in favour of Vidal, who again requested his readmission after the Spanish Constitutional Court quashed, last December, the regulation which the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) used to denied his readmission in March of 2018 for "lack of aptitude" and for his public statements during the period of sanction.

However, the Supreme Court says that Vidal will have to take pat in públic contests to obtain a posting. So, for the time being he cannot recover the post he had as a judge in the Barcelona provincial court.

Last December, the Spanish Constitutional Court overturned the March 2018 CGPJ regulation which blocked Vidal's readmission to the judicial career, when the three years' sanction had been fulfilled, just a few weeks after the judge had requested his readmission to the judiciary.

The CGPJ suspended Vidal in 2015 for three years for having taken part, in his spare time, in a proposal for a Catalan constitution. The vote was close - twelve votes to nine - after more than eight hours of debate. The majority, led by CGPJ President Carlos Lesmes, resolved that Vidal had committed a very serious disciplinary fault and accused him of having failed to fulfil the basic duty of fidelity to the Spanish constitution and to the legal system. The penalty meant the loss of the judge's post in the Barcelona provincial court.

When he was called to declare, Vidal repeatedly made it clear that it was a private initiative of his own and group of colleagues, that had not been requested by anyone, that he carried it out pro bono and outside his working hours and that it was of indisputable theoretical interest.

The following year, the Spanish Supreme Court confirmed the CGPJ suspension, also with consideable division: 21 favourable votes and 11 votes against. The judges in the minority announced individual votes against the decision, to display their discrepancy.

A year ago, in March 2018, when the three years' punishment had already been fulfilled, Vidal asked to be able to return to exercise as a judge. However, the CGPJ denied tuned down his return to the judiciary. The CGPJ alleged the 'lack of aptitude' of Vidal to be a judge again 'as a result of his public statements and interventions made during the period of suspension'. It claimed that his words revealed a lack of loyalty to the institutions of the state and to the Spanish constitution.

Vidal is currently under investigation by Court No. 13 in Barcelona for alleged offences of disclosue of secrets, embezzlement, disobedience and prevarication within the framework of the case opened for the organization of the 1 October referendum. In February last year he was summoned to declare to the City of Justice along with jurist Carles Viver i Pi-Sunyer, former president of the Advisory Council for the National Transition, for his statements in several lectures round the country on the preparations for the referendum. This Thursday he is due to declare before the Supreme Court as a witness in the independence process trial.

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