Judge Penalva walking to court. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

The Council of the Judiciary has accepted the request for protection from Judge Manuel Penalva. The judge at Palma's court of instruction is heading the criminal investigations into Tolo Cursach and police corruption, and he has denounced the "continuous harassment" to which he has been subjected by various lawyers represented in the Cursach case.

The Council's standing committee has therefore taken the first step in protecting Penalva and has handed the matter to the national government delegation in the Balearics. It is up to the delegation to ensure the judge's safety.

In the complaint he lodged with the Council, Penalva referred to being constantly followed, to threatening and insulting graffiti in the vicinity of his home, and to the setting fire of a car in the garage of his apartment building. In addition, he referred to "manouevres" that have sought to discredit him, such as the calling of a public demonstration on the same day that various accused (including Cursach) had been summoned to court.

In considering the application of protection, the Council had to take into account the potential and serious jeopardising of the judge's ability to act by being subjected to "decisive pressures".

Meanwhile, the Balearics College of Lawyers (equivalent to the Bar Association) has sent a request to the national government delegation for it to report who called the first demonstration against Penalva on 27 November. In light of what Penalva has said, it too is calling for there to be appropriate security measures.

A further twist in all this is that the anti-corruption prosecution service in Madrid has backed a call for Penalva's recusal (disqualification in overseeing the case), having questioned his impartiality.