Thursday, April 08, 2010

Spain / Universal Jurisdiction

Baltasar Garzon Vowed to See Spain's Fascists in Court. But Not This Way
By Anita Brooks
The Independent, April 8, 2010
"To his supporters abroad, Baltasar Garzón is a hero, a legal crusader who has dared to investigate the abuses of right-wing Latin American dictatorships, starting with the 1998 arrest of Chile's Augusto Pinochet. To many in Spain, the 54-year-old high court judge, forever flanked by bodyguards, is his country's gutsiest watchdog, the nemesis of drug lords, corrupt politicians and violent Basque separatists. But after two decades of crusading, Mr. Garzón has also attracted criticism for what some see as his cavalier, headline-grabbing indictments, including one against Osama bin Laden. And now his detractors are having their day. Mr. Garzón was charged yesterday with abusing his powers by launching Spain's first-ever investigation into Franco-era abuses -- namely the forced disappearance of 114,000 victims on the losing Republican side of the war. In a 14-page ruling, Spanish Supreme Court investigating magistrate Luciano Varela charged Mr. Garzón with recklessly violating a 1977 amnesty law that shielded members of the Franco regime from legal persecution. ... Mr. Garzón is expected to face trial next month. If he is found guilty, he could be barred from the bench for up to 20 years.
'I will continue to defend my absolute innocence,' he said last month when an appeal was rejected. The lawsuit is one of three now pending against the judge, one of which takes aim at his corruption inquiry into the opposition Popular Party. It was brought before the Supreme Court by three extreme-right groups, including the Falange de las Jons, a modern splinter group of the Franco-era fascist party of the same name. 'It's like the end of a farce,' said Francisco Espinosa, a historian who served on an advisory committee for the investigation. 'The same people that participated actively in the failed coup of 23 February 1981 and in the repression under investigation are precisely the ones bringing the complaint, and the Supreme Court, instead of shelving it, gives the green light.' One of the especially bizarre by-products of the lawsuit, Mr. Espinosa added, is that the ultra-right groups now have access to reams of testimony by victims' families. 'There are families who have asked to withdraw their information before it falls into the hands of these people,' Mr. Espinosa said. [...]"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ