Monday, April 12, 2010

Spain / Spanish Civil War

Judicial Battle in Spain over Attempt to Probe Franco's Crimes
DPA dispatch in, April 12, 2010
"A judicial battle was launched in Spain on Monday over the attempt by a high-profile judge to investigate the crimes of 1939-75 dictator Francisco Franco. Two associations representing Franco's victims sued Supreme Court judge Luciano Varela for professional misconduct in preparing a trial against National Court judge Baltasar Garzon. Garzon, who is known internationally for his human rights investigations in other countries, launched in 2008 Spain's first judicial probe into Franco's crimes. The judge blames the late dictator for the deaths of more than 100,000 alleged opponents during the 1936-39 civil war and the ensuing dictatorship. A few months later, however, Garzon was forced to drop the probe under pressure from legal experts and conservative politicians. Two far-right associations and Franco's Falangist party lodged a legal complaint against Garzon at the Supreme Court. Judge Varela gave the green light to a trial, saying Garzon had overstepped his authority in ignoring an amnesty that had been granted for civil war era crimes after Franco's death in 1975. Branches of the Association for the Recovery of Historic Memory (ARMH) in the north-eastern region of Catalonia and on the island of Majorca challenged Varela's decision in court. They expressed their 'deep indignation' over a trial which had been initiated by 'Fascist' Franco's 'ideological representatives.' Varela ignored international agreements signed by Spain, which said amnesties did not apply for genocide or crimes against humanity, the associations argued. The associations also sued Supreme Court judge Juan Saavedra, president of a court chamber which had rejected appeals lodged by Garzon. ARMH defends the families of Franco's victims, tens of thousands of whom still lie buried in unmarked mass graves. The trial against Garzon has also met with widespread criticism abroad. [...]"

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