Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Spanish judges on one-day strike

By Danny Wood
BBC News, Madrid

Spain's National Court (pictured in 2004)
'Urgent' trials at Madrid's national court will not be affected

Spanish judges have stopped work in an unprecedented 24-hour strike over their working conditions.

The action has suspended hundreds of trials around the country, but urgent cases will not be held up.

The judicial associations behind the protest represent some 2,000 of the almost 4,500 magistrates in Spain.

Protesting magistrates say the judicial system needs urgent modernisation, and that 1,000 more judges are required to deal with the current workload.

The move would bring the number of judges in Spain up to the European average, the protesters say.

In response, Minister for Justice Mariano Fernandez Bermejo said the judges had no right to strike and represented a minority of the country's magistrates.

The minister has called on Spain's highest judicial body to take action against the protesting judges.

He added that a strike was not the answer to their concerns, while the two associations which represent the majority of judges have said they prefer to pursue other forms of protest.

In Madrid, hundreds of trials and hearings have been suspended because of the strike, but magistrates said urgent legal cases - like those involving domestic violence and children - will not be affected.

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