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Spain justice minister resigns amid controversy

[JURIST] Spanish Minister of Justice Mariano Fernandez Bermejo [official profile, in Spanish] resigned on Monday due to mounting pressure following allegations that he interfered with a judicial investigation during a hunting trip with Judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The hunting expedition occurred just days before the launch of Garzon's investigation into corruption charges against the conservative Popular Party (PP) [official website, in Spanish], but Bermejo maintained that it was a mere coincidence that he and Gardon were on the trip together. Bermejo said Monday that he decided to resign [El Pais report, in Spanish] because he believed that it would be easier for someone else to do the job amid the controversy. Current Secretary for Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Francisco Caamano is expected to be named [El Pais report, in Spanish] as Bermejo's successor.

Prior to his resignation, Bermejo had been criticized for his handling of the judiciary strike [JURIST report] earlier this month. Judges from more than 30 Spanish provinces went on a one-day strike to demand the hiring of more judges and the adoption of electronic technology to decrease their workload. The effort, known as the October 8 Movement [El Mundo report, in Spanish; AJFV materials, in Spanish], was sparked by the fine a Huelva judge incurred in October 2008 [EcoDiario report, in Spanish] for delay in issuing an arrest order for a suspect who later killed a small child. Bermejo had said that he intended to propose a law limiting the ways in which judges may assert their rights, given their role in the government. The judges planned to challenge any such law.

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