CGPJ to seek head’s resignation over Marbella trips

Extraordinary meeting called for Thursday to seek answers over multiple weekend jaunts

The revelation that the Chief Justice and head of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Carlos Dívar, traveled to Puerto Banús in Marbella at least 20 times and allegedly charged expenses, including a seven-strong bodyguard, to the judiciary have led to calls for his resignation.

Six of the 20-strong CGPJ membership are expected to table a motion for Dívar to fall on his sword at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday. Thirteen votes in favor of the move will be sufficient for the CGPJ committee to sack Dívar, something that has not happened since Spain returned to democracy.

CGPJ board member José Manuel Gómez Benítez filed the original complaint over Dívar's expense account and a meeting was called on Monday after the investigation into the Chief Justice's trips was dropped by the Supreme Court. The judicial watchdog demanded explanations from its president — explanations that were not immediately forthcoming.

After the Monday meeting, Dívar's chief of staff, Eduardo Menéndez, announced an extraordinary assembly for Thursday with a single item on the agenda: his boss' trips. Speaking at the meeting Monday, Dívar said he learned that Benítez had lodged the suit through EL PAÍS and denied any contact with the prosecutor.

The CGPJ is aiming to find common ground in Thursday's session in an attempt to limit the collateral damage caused by Dívar's weekend jaunts, some of which lasted for four days or more and included dinners at luxury restaurants.

Supporting Benítez's call for austerity, Dívar said at Monday's meeting: "I think we are giving an image of scant transparency in terms of expenses," adding that the prosecutor's ruling had been "clear and emphatic."

"Whatever the prosecutor says, so many trips to Marbella do not have ethic or esthetic justification," Benítez said.

Siding with Dívar, CGPJ member Gemma Gallego asked if Benítez was going to resign. Her counterpart Pío Aguirre described Benítez's decision to lodge a complaint without consulting the CGPJ as "disrespectful." Benítez shot back: "I don't trust the plenary."


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