Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spain / Argentina / Spanish Civil War

Spain Mum on Franco-era War Probe by Argentina
By Daniel Woolls
Associated Press dispatch in Taiwan News, April 16, 2010
"A Spanish official refused to say Friday if the Madrid government will cooperate with a proposed investigation by Argentine courts of atrocities committed in Spain during its civil war. Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said it is too early to say because a suit seeking such a probe was filed only this week in Argentina and courts there have to deliberate and decide whether to start investigating. 'This issue is at a very preliminary phase,' she told reporters after a weekly Cabinet meeting. Human rights groups in Argentina say they presented their petition in part because Spain's Judge Baltasar Garzon tried a few years ago to probe wartime atrocities by forces loyal to Gen. Francisco Franco, got nowhere and is now indicted on charges of overstepping his jurisdiction for launching the investigation in the first place. He tried to probe tens of thousands of executions and disappearances of civilians in the 1936-39 war and the early years of the Franco dictatorship. Such crimes were covered by a 1977 amnesty and this is one of the reasons Garzon was indicted last week by a judge at the Supreme Court.
The suit in Argentina was filed by relatives of three Spaniards and an Argentine killed during the war, and their lawyers said they hoped to add many more cases in the months to come. It seeks to apply the principle of universal jurisdiction _ the idea that particularly heinous crimes committed in one country can be prosecuted in another. This has been the specialty of Garzon, who used the doctrine to go after former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden. The Argentine suit alleges genocide, arguing that Franco ordered the systematic elimination of political opponents and the order remained in effect until Spain's democracy was restored in 1977. Franco died in 1975. Survivors of Spanish civil war victims have said it is outrageous that they cannot get justice in Spain and may eventually see Argentina do it for them. But Fernandez de la Vega defended Spain, saying: 'We have solid rule of law, in which the law is respected and justice is independent.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

1 comment:

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ