Case of First Sergeant Juan Carlos

Military Chamber (2019)

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Case of First Sergeant Juan Carlos

Spain Supreme Court
Military Chamber (2019)

Facts

Army soldier Jose Pablo (plaintiff) was in a unit under the authority of First Sergeant Juan Carlos (defendant). Carlos singled Pablo out for derogatory names and comments, repeatedly ridiculing Pablo in front of the unit. For instance, Carlos referred to making any mistake as “doing a Jose Pablo.” Carlos also ordered Pablo to show him a photo of Pablo’s girlfriend in front of others in the unit and then ridiculed the photo. Carlos also hit Pablo in the chest with a closed fist on several occasions. Two soldiers in the unit, Juliàn and Marco Antonio (defendants), wrote a degrading song about Pablo that mostly contained examples of the ways that Carlos ridiculed Pablo. Pablo filed a complaint alleging that Carlos, Juliàn, and Antonio had committed the crime of abuse of authority by subjecting him to (1) mistreatment and (2) degrading treatment. Carlos, Juliàn, and Antonio moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that even if the factual allegations were true, legally, these facts were not enough to support the military crime of abuse of authority. The local military court found that the alleged facts were sufficient to state the crime of abuse of authority. However, the territorial military court disagreed and dismissed the charges as legally insufficient. The matter was appealed to the Military Chamber of the Spain Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Meca, J.)

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