Benny Faces the Judge Again

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Ex-Mayor, Juan Carlos Benavides – who is arguably the Spanish mayor who has most appeared before a judge, but is certainly the one that has received the most acquittals – is to face the judge again, standing accused of deliberately hampering the work of the regional ombudsman. The Public Prosecutor considers that the controversial ex-mayor ‘ninguneó’ (treated as irrelevant) the Defensor del Pueblo.

Although no date has yet been fixed for the trial, things are beginning to gear up, and as can be expected, it is causing considerable speculation in the regional media and political world.

There has only been one judicial parallel in the whole of Spain, and that was when the then-Mayor of Pasaia in Guipuzcoa (Basque Country) was accused of doing the same to the Basque Regional Ombudsman (Ararteko). In that case, the said mayor was found guilty and suspended from holding public office for eleven months. Admittedly, in case of the Basque mayor, his party was a widely accepted political front for the Basque terrorist group, ETA, so it attracted far greater media interest.

Down here, Sr. Benavides, if found guilty of transgressing Article 502 of the Criminal Law Code, he would be facing a barring from public office of between six months and two years…

Since the Regional Public Prosecutor started legal action in 2009 against Sr. Benavides, at the instigation of the Regional Ombudsman, José Chamizo, the Wheels of Justice have been slowly turning (their habitual speed) so that now the date of the hearing needs only to be set. The reason that the hearing hasn’t taken place before now is, according to the Ideal article (4th May), that Sr. Benavides has been lodging appeals at each stage of the pretrial process.

It was the 2010 Annual Report given by the Ombudsman in which he stated that the then Mayor of Almuñécar had been the person that had caused most obstacles to the Regional Ombudsman’s office in the whole of its 27 years of existence that really brought the affair to the forefront. The ex-Mayor did not heed the Ombudsman’s warning, prior to this, that if he continued on the same course, he would be taken to court.

Now, the office of ombudsman might not sound very impressive, but the one person that you should not come up against is precisely this administrative safeguard, whose integrity is sacrosanct right across the political spectrum.

(News: Almunecar, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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