Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Spain / Genocide Tribunals / Universal Jursidiction

Spain's Judge Garzon Charged with Abuse of Power
Associated Press dispatch in The New York Times, April 7, 2010
"The Spanish judge who became an international hero by going after Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden was indicted Wednesday for having dared to investigate what is arguably Spain's own biggest unresolved case: atrocities committed during and after its ruinous Civil War. Baltasar Garzon was charged with knowingly acting without jurisdiction by launching a probe in 2008 of tens of thousands of wartime executions and disappearances of civilians by forces loyal to Gen. Francisco Franco, even though the crimes were covered by a 1977 amnesty. Garzon does not face jail time but if convicted he could be removed from the bench for 10 to 20 years. A conviction would effectively end Garzon's career as a judge, his attorney has said. The indictment by Luciano Varela, an investigating magistrate at the Supreme Court, marks a devastating fall from grace for one of Spain's most prominent and divisive public figures and a man well-known overseas for his cross-border justice cases.
Garzon, 54, is a hero to leftists and international human rights groups like Amnesty International, but he is a headline-loving egotist with a grudge against the right in the eyes of Spanish conservatives. He has prosecuted people ranging from Islamic extremists to Basque separatists to Argentine ''dirty war'' suspects, and has many political enemies and detractors in everyday life. Indeed, for many Spaniards Garzon is being punished for standing out: for being a legal superstar who lands cushy lecturing gigs abroad and draws crowds wherever he goes while low-paid counterparts back home watch in envy. Garzon will probably be suspended from his post at the National Court in a matter of days and a trial could start as early as June, Garzon's lawyer Gonzalo Martinez-Fresneda told AP Wednesday. Garzon made no immediate public comment but supporters were devastated. Emilio Silva, head of an association that helps Spaniards find the bodies of loved ones missing since the 1936-39 war, said Garzon was an exception in a country where no government ever tried to offer justice to such descendants, even as bodies keep turning up in mass graves. 'And when a judge investigates the crime, they put him on trial. It is almost humiliating,' Silva said. [...]"
[n.b. The very sleaziest of kneecappings. La lucha sigue.]

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