Who is José Antonio Vázquez Taín, the judge of the Asunta case known as “the Galician Garzón” or “the Robin Hood of Villagarcía”

Who is José Antonio Vázquez Taín, the judge of the Asunta case known as “the Galician Garzón” or “the Robin Hood of Villagarcía”
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Judge José Antonio Vázquez Taín (Europa Press)

He Asunta case has once again been on everyone’s lips thanks to the series starring Candela Peña and Tristán Ulloa that premiered last Friday. It contains the story of the murder of Asunta Basterra Porto, 12 years old, by his adoptive parents. Both were sentenced to 18 years in prison for having sedated her with pills to later suffocate her and abandon her body on a forest trail near her mother’s chalet. This sentence was handed down by José Antonio Vázquezthe most famous Galician judge in Spain.

The magistrate, who in the series Javier Gutierrez He plays a fictional version called Judge Malvar. He was born in the Orense town of A Merca in 1968 and, apart from the trial of Asunta’s parents, he has had a few famous lawsuits on his hands. From the theft of the Codex Calixtinus to drug trafficking cases, during his career he has rightly earned the nicknames of “the Galician Garzón” and the “Robin Hood of Villagarcía”.

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If we talk about the fight against drug trafficking in Galicia, the first judge that comes to mind is Baltasar Garzónwho in 1990 managed to imprison the old guard in the Operation Nécora. However, the operations continued to operate, commanded from the prison, mainly due to the lack of police in the second half of the 1990s. This situation continued until 1999, when Vázquez Tain arrived at the courts of Vilagarcía de Arousa.

He only needed four years to stop these criminals and achieve unusual victories with meticulous work, carried out with great patience. Perhaps what was his greatest success was the imprisonment of one of the main kings of drug trafficking, Golden Martial. A man who walked around Galicia with total impunity, known by all the neighbors, and without any type of escort.

Marcial Dorado with Alberto Núñez Feijóo (Archive of the newspaper ‘El País’)

Apart from quality, his achievements were also measured in quantity. At this time he seized more than 50 tons of drugsa work that far exceeded that carried out by the so-called super judges of the National Court: Baltasar Garzón, Carlos Bueren, Ruiz de Polanco, Teresa Palacios and Carlos Dívar. In 2003 alone, 30 tons were seized, which doubled the amount of cocaine seized throughout Spain during all of 2002.

The most significant caches during that year were those of South Sea, a Senegalese ship seized with 7,500 kilos of white powder; the merchant ships Poseidon and Alejandra, located with 5,300 kilos in an operation in which the DEA participated; the Cork shuttle, which brought 3,600 kilos of coca and allowed the arrest of Miñanco Site; the fishing vessel Pesca I, with 2,621 kilos of cocaine from Venezuela; or those of ships like the Nonga, which intended to land three tons.

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It may interest you: The crime that shocked Galicia; ended the lives of three women

The Calixtine codex (EFE)

On June 5, 2011, the archivists of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral reported that the Codex Calixtinus had disappeared. This was located in an armored chamber, where the most valuable works of this institution are stored. A completely hermetic room to which only three people had access, the dean of said cathedral, José María Díaz, and two of his collaborators, but which did not present no sign of having been forced.

Due to its high economic value, but above all its historical value, a investigation to clarify the facts that reached even the international media. One of those in charge of this task was Vázquez Taín, as instructor of the case. The first inquiries pointed to the organist, who was later discovered to have pages of it, but not the complete work.

Under political pressure and having to avoid the secrecy of the Catholic Church, the researchers reached a conclusion that surprised everyone. The thief was none other than Manuel Fernández Castiñeiras, the cathedral’s electrician. This man managed to go completely unnoticed in the first instances, due to the tranquility that he maintained at all times. Tranquility that he continued to maintain at the time of confessing to the crime after being arrested.

If all of the above seemed not enough, in recent months the magistrate has had a run-in with the Disciplinary Commission of the General Council of the Judiciary in his current position as head of the Criminal Court number 2 of A Coruña. Last September 2023, he was sanctioned, for a very serious offense due to the incompatibility of his position with the creation of a television production company, with professional suspension for 10 days.

In June of that year, the Judiciary opened a file against Taín upon learning that he participated in an audiovisual production company, so An investigation was opened by an instructor (promoter of disciplinary action) which determined that he had incurred a possible very serious offense, which has now been ratified by the Disciplinary Commission with the decision to sanction the Galician judge considering that he exercises an activity outside the judicial field and totally incompatible with the exercise of the judiciary.

In recent years he had presented with his production company two audiovisual documentaries. Pilgrimswhich is about women on the Camino de Santiago, and O Camiño Mozárabe: blood, suor and faithwhich reviews the history of the journey that linked the north and south of the peninsula for more than a thousand years and that constructs an audiovisual story in the form of a documentary through the centuries and that highlights the historical memory of the Vía de la Plata.

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