After various part-stoppages over the last few weeks, judges and public prosecutors working in courts across Malaga province took part in a national strike on Tuesday. They are asking the government for more resources and more independence.
In Malaga city's large central court complex, more than 90 per cent of the 200 judges and prosecutors stayed away, causing more than 500 cases that were due to be heard in the building to be postponed. This is only the second strike ever recorded among these key court workers, the last one being in 2009. Judges' representative in Malaga, José María Páez, said that a minimum service level had been maintained for urgent cases.
Explaining the causes of the nationwide strike, Páez said that there had been underinvestment in courts and the justice service was “the poor relation” of other public services. He added that judges and prosecutors want to see the “depoliticisation” of the national body that oversees the appointment of top judges and inspection of courts.
Judges, who carry out detailed investigations of offences in Spain as well as hearing cases, say they are 30 short in Malaga city alone, and public prosecutors say they are 15 short across the province.
Local lawyers have criticised the strike action, with provincial representative, Francisco Javier Lara, saying that “we might agree with their complaints but not with them going on strike”.
The national Justice ministry says it has been working hard “for months” on an agreement to end the dispute.