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Spain chief justice resigns over embezzlement accusations

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Spain [official website, in Spanish] resigned Thursday over allegations that he used public funds for personal trips between 2008 and 2012. Carlos Divar [El Pais profile], who is also the chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, announced [El Pais report] during a 20-member judicial oversight board meeting that he will step down from his position while rejecting the allegations against him. He has been accused of embezzling public funds by asking the board for reimbursement for a total of 32 trips, including one to Marbella, that were allegedly personal in nature. The total amount of public funds Divar took for personal use is alleged to be around 28,160.28 euros. The complaint was filed by a member of the judicial council, Jose Manuel Gomez Benitez. Divar claimed that all of the trips in questions were work-related, and he pointed out that he is only resigning to avoid further harm to his reputation, not because the allegations against him are true.

Divar is the second judge to draw the public's attention recently. Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was acquitted [JURIST report] in February by the country's Supreme Court in a 6-1 decision. He had been accused of abusing his power by ordering the exhumation [JURIST report] of 19 mass graves in Spain in order to assemble a definitive national registry of Civil War victims, despite a 1977 law that provides amnesty for Franco-era crimes. In January, he had argued during his second trial that his investigation was not politically motivated [JURIST reports] but rather was driven to bring justice for the victims of the alleged crimes. In another case against the judge, the Supreme Court convicted him for ordering illegal wiretaps in jailhouses within a month after the trial started [JURIST reports].

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