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Spain fires ambassador who 'did nothing but go to church'

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Spain fires ambassador who 'did nothing but go to church'
Ambassador Matellanes photographed in Nicaragua. Photo: AFP
11:03 CEST+02:00
Spain has dismissed its ambassador to Belgium after it emerged he had made no contact with the government there since coming to office four years ago.

Instead of carrying out the usual duties, the head of the diplomatic mission "almost never came to work and when he did, he left to go to mass for an hour".

Ignacio Jesus Matellanes Martinez was removed as ambassador on Friday after an internal report by Spain's Foreign Ministry found his post had been marked by "inadequate representation and absenteeism".

The report also found that Matellanes had created a "climate of fear, threat and confrontation" that had been reflected in an unusually high number of people taking sick leave.

"Spain's embassy in Brussels failed to carry out essential duties as a diplomatic mission with Belgian authorities, a situation that can be blamed on the the head of the mission," said the damning report into the state of affairs at the embassy. 

Instead of carrying out the usual duties, the head of the diplomatic mission went to mass for an hour each day at 11am.

"The worst of it is that he didn't represent the country at all," an embassy source told online Spanish newspaper El Confidencial. "Matellanes doesn't have meetings with anyone, he does nothing and prevents staff from taking even the smallest initiative."

Concerns about Matellanes in Brussels had first been raised with the Foreign Ministry in 2013 and a special investigation was finally carried out between March 9 -11th.

It was also reported that similar complaints had been made during his last posting in Nicaragua. 

The dismissal was announced in the Official State Bulletin on Friday.

Acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has had to fire several officials since taking office in 2011.

Among them was Spain's consul in Boston who was sacked after it emerged he had closed his legation at the normal time just hours after the marathon bombing without providing any emergency communication alternative.

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