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JUDICIAL SCANDAL

Catalonia seeks to bar top judge from cases due to possible bias

Andalusia also wants action against one-time PP card-carrying magistrate

The Catalonia regional government said Tuesday it will seek to bar the Constitutional Court’s chief justice from presiding over pending litigation it has against the Rajoy administration following the top magistrate’s own acknowledgement that he was a card-carrying member of the Popular Party (PP).

Francesc Homs, the government spokesman, said that it was “upsetting” to think that a lawsuit filed by the PP should be decided by a party member. Francisco Pérez de los Cobos’ membership of the PP “confirms the feeling” that there could be “conflicts of interest” in the cases he presides, Homs said. Pérez de los Cobos admitted that he paid party dues from 2008 to 2011 while serving on the court but hasn’t paid his membership fees since.

Andalusia, which is also involved in litigation with the central government in Madrid, is also studying similar legal action to get Pérez de los Cobos removed from pending cases before the court. The chief judge has said that he won’t step down but sources have said that he is willing to call together the other justices on the bench to a meeting in September to discuss the issue as pressure against him builds from within the judiciary.

Catalonia has about 47 pending cases before the Constitutional Court against the Rajoy government, including a challenge to its January 23 sovereignty declaration — identifying the Catalan people as a “sovereign political and legal entity” — which the bench ordered the region not to act on until it could resolve the case. On July 11, it ordered a temporary injunction against the controversial anti-evictions decree passed earlier this year by Andalusia, based on a suit filed by the Rajoy administration last June.

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