Saturday, April 22, 2017

Two months arrest for denouncing corruption

CURIAThe Military Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court admitted the appeal (cassation) of the military disciplinary proceedings presented by former Army Lieutenant Luis Gonzalo Segura against the judgment of the Central Military Tribunal of October 26, 2016.  The Court in the 2016 decision rejected the complaint filed by the former Lieutenant against the resolution of the Minister of Defense of October 29, 2014, confirming on appeal the agreement of the general chief of staff of the Army of July 16, 2014 by which two disciplinary sanctions were imposed on the former Lieutenant.

The first consisted in two months arrest for being the author of a serious offense consisting in “manifestations against discipline (…) or carrying them out through the communications media.” This was as a result of an interview he gave on a prime time program to Jose Miguel Monzon, while wearing his uniform.

The second consisted in his loss of a new posting for being the author of another serious offense consisting of “emitting (…) contrary expressions, carrying out disrespectful acts or adopting an attitude of disdain to (…) institutions or powers or persons or authorities that constitute (…) the Armed Forces and the Bodies that comprise it and other institutions or Bodies of a military nature; as well as the military authorities, when they do not constitute a more serious crime or felony.”

According to the Supreme Court, this could have been a violation of the right to due process (art 24.2 of the Constitution) and the principle “non bis in idem” (double jeopardy) for the double disciplinary sanction for the same acts, as well as an eventual violation of the right to the presumption of innocence.

The Supreme Court, however, has not pronounced itself on the pre-judicial question presented by the lawyers representing Luis Segura, in which they request, by means of the Supreme Court, that the European Court of Justice give an opinion as to whether the disciplinary measures imposed on a member of the military for denouncing publicly corruption is incompatible with Directive 2000/78/CE of the Council, of November 27, 2000.   

The Military Chamber of the Supreme Court is the highest level of Spanish justice that can resolve this question or transfer it to the European Court of Justice.  In either case, it cannot remain silent in the face of this question, it is obliged to pronounce itself, stated Segura’s lawyer.  Since the Central Military Tribunal is comprised of three persons -- two lawyers and one who is not a lawyer -- it is not independent; consequently, either the Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice should decide the case, he added.

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