Archbishop accused of bullying fails to avoid being tried in secular court

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The Independent Online

The Archbishop of Granada has caused a stir in the Catholic hierarchy by becoming the first Spanish cleric of his rank to stand trial in a secular, rather than religious, court.

Archbishop Francisco Martinez made his historic appearance at Granada's criminal court, accused of bullying, moral assault, insults and slander against a fellow priest.

The case, which finally reached court this week after months of obstructions by religious authorities, was brought by the former archivist and canon of Granada cathedral, Javier Medina, whom the archbishop had stripped of all religious duties.

The ousted priest told the court on Tuesday that the archbishop had said: "You are not boss here. You are a bad, disobedient priest and I'm going to teach you obedience with the whip."

The priest sued the archbishop in February for having falsely accused him of illicitly appropriating funds and church property, and of obtaining copyright of a book that Fr Javier wrote about the history of the cathedral.

According to the dismissed priest, the archbishop sacked him for "disobedience", changed the locks on his office and instructed cathedral employees to watch him remove his belongings.

Mgr Martinez has been a controversial figure since he took over the archbishopric. Last year 132 priests signed a document critical of his conservative management of the diocese.

Mgr Martinez denies all charges, and said at a tense court session on Wednesday he was "a victim of assault by the media". If found guilty, he faces a €45,000 (£32,000) fine. He has also invested €1,940 on newspapers adverts protesting his innocence, and publicising his latest sermon – on religious persecution.

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