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Spain Sacks Ambassador to Belgium

Tue 12th Apr 2016
Spain Sacks Ambassador to Belgium

The Spanish foreign ministry has been forced to dismiss Ignacio Jesus Matellanes Martinez, its ambassador to Belgium for absenteeism, failing to properly represent Spain abroad and developing a culture of fear and abuse of power.

Despite complaints and concerns being raised by embassy staff from as early as 2013, an investigation wasn’t carried out until March this year at the Brussels based diplomatic mission.

The Spanish foreign ministry said Matellanes has “burnt all his bridges” with the Belgian government, a similar scenario on a previous posting in Nicaragua.

The investigation concluded the embassy was paralysed by absenteeism, the ambassador’s negative attitude, denying diplomatic personnel any use of initiative or role and the total absence of any leadership or coordination.

The inspector said the ambassador’s treatment of staff amounted to harassment, subjecting staff to “intense, repeated, methodical and prolonged psychological violence, using his position of power to create a hostile and humiliating environment that upset the victim’s personal and working life” An embassy source revealed he would rarely come into the embassy and when he did, he would leave to attend mass between 11am and 12pm. It has been suggested he wanted to be an ambassador to the Vatican.

It's not the first time a Spanish ambassador has been removed from duties. In 2013, Pablo Sánchez-Terán was fired for closing the Boston based Spanish consulate at the regular time without any kind of emergency support or lifeline, just hours after two devastating terrorist bombs were detonated, killing 3 people and injuring more than 170 others at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon.

The Spanish foreign ministry has been criticised for failing to take action sooner against Matellanes. Allegations suggest Matellanes’ friendship with MEP Francisco Millán, who is the prime minister’s brother-in-law, may have had something to do with it.

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