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EDITORIAL
Editorials
These are the responsibility of the editor and convey the newspaper's view on current affairs-both domestic and international

Too much of a hurry

Removing the judge from the “Nóos case” may erode the credibility of the Spanish courts

The parliamentary immunity enjoyed by elected political figures of various types to the effect that criminal proceedings cannot be carried on against them in courts of first instance but only in higher courts — the Supreme Court or the High Courts of their respective regions — appears increasingly a privilege that is unsustainable in modern democracies, one of whose salient characteristics is equality before the law.

But this is not all. It frequently becomes an obstacle to the investigation of a crime by interrupting the initial thrust of the proceedings, while transferring them into the hands of instances remote from the scene of the crime and close to circles of power.

This risk hangs over the “Nóos case,” now that the Balearic Islands’ regional anti-corruption prosecutor has requested that the whole of the proceedings — which now amount to 160,000 pages — be transferred to the regional High Court of Justice of Valencia on the grounds of the parliamentary immunity enjoyed by the former regional premier, Francisco Camps, and by the present mayor of Valencia, Rita Barberá. Both are members of the regional parliament, and both face possible charges of misappropriation of public funds, abuse of office, fraud and falsifying public documents.

This would mean the exclusion of Judge José Castro, who has been handling the case for three years, and is awaiting to receive a number of documents concerning Princess Cristina before arriving at a conclusion.

It seems surprising that the same prosecutor who initially maintained the desirability of a parallel investigation, separate from the principal one, on the role played by Camps and Barberá in the concession of more than three million euros of public funds to the Nóos Institute, should now come out against that possibility, adducing the traditional doctrine that the case of a defendant with parliamentary immunity prevails over that of another without it “when the investigation cannot be divided.”

It is also surprising that he is voicing this demand before the High Court of Valencia has made any decision on whether to charge Camps and Barberá, and that he has been so quick to deduce that the actions attributable to them are not susceptible to being considered separately from those now under investigation by Judge Castro in Palma de Mallorca.

We must now await the decision of the High Court of Justice in Valencia. Supposing that this court accepts its competence to take over a case so complex and so voluminous, which largely concerns events that happened in another region, Judge Castro still has at his disposal several legal means with which to defend his own jurisdiction over the case, should he consider that it has been improperly wrested from him.

It would constitute a scandal if the Nóos case, split into sections or not, were not to be investigated in all its ramifications. As in other matters of political corruption, what is at stake here is the credibility of the Spanish justice system, and the citizen’s confidence in it. These desires that are so important in a democracy are not favored by the haste with which the prosecutor’s office is seeking to remove the case from the judge who has been handling it for three years.

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