MADRID (AP) – Spain’s justice minister resigned Monday amid an uproar over his contacts with a judge conducting a corruption investigation that has implicated
some members of the conservative opposition. Mariano Fernandez Bermejo said he was stepping down because he felt the opposition was using him as a lighting rod to attack the Socialist government. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero accepted the resignation. The new justice minister is Francisco Caamano Dominguez, 46, who has held a senior post on Zapatero’s staff in constitutional and parliamentary affairs. The opposition conservative Popular Party and major Spanish media outlets had been calling for the resignation after it emerged that Fernandez Bermejo went on a hunting trip this month that was also attended by the investigating judge. Fernandez Bermejo said previously that many people were on the outing and he barely greeted the judge, Baltasar Garzon. But he also conceded it was "untimely” to be on a social outing with the judge during the investigation. Compounding his problems, Fernandez Bermejo admitted the event was in a region, Andalucia, where he did not have a hunting license and he faces a fine.
The Popular Party had said it would no longer cooperate with the Justice Ministry if Fernandez Bermejo stayed on as minister. It accused the government of waging a witch hunt against the party through the probe carried out by Garzon.