1.-The Constitutional Tribunal is the highest interpreter of our Constitution. Until now, this Court considered that the right to effective judicial protection (art. 24 Spanish Constitution: CE) implied “the right to participate in person in a trial and to self- defend”. This constitutional regulation also indicated that “the defendants right to be present in a trial is a requirement of audi alterem partem principle and a tool to allow the exercise of the right to self-defence against prosecution” (Judgement 91/2000, march 30th, third section of legal basis). So, in case of heavy penalties, no person shall be condemned in his absence, eventhough he had designated a lawyer as a representative in oral arguments.
2.-But, in its judgement 26/2014, February 13th, the Constitutional Court changed the jurisprudence and considered that a condemnation without the presence of the defendant doesn’t infringe on the Spanish Constitution. However, this High Tribunal imposed three conditions:
-The defendant has freely chosen his absence. His option is clear and unambiguous.
-The defendant has been rightly notified.
-The defendant has appointed a lawyer. Moreover, this attorney has effectively defended the position of the accused.
3.-This transformation is not only a mere evolution in Constitutional Court jurisprudence, but it’s a change caused by a judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that decided a preliminary ruling question about interpretation and validity of European Law. That was the only question proposed by the Spanish Constitutional Court until now.