Monday, November 13, 2006

March 11th....The Wrong Kind Of Victims, The Right Kind Of Judge

800,000 euros. According to El País on Saturday, that is the amount of money which the regional government of Madrid, led by Partido Popular hardliner Esperanza Aguirre, has budgeted for assistance to victims of terrorism in the year 2007. Now, here is today's big question. How much of this money will go to the Asociación 11-m, Afectados por Terrorismo; the association which represents the largest number, if not the majority, of affiliated victims of the Madrid train bombings?

The answer to the above question is zero....not a cent....nothing. There is plenty of money for other associations representing terrorist victims (such as the AVT), so what could the difference be? Well, perhaps it is because the Asociación 11-M doesn't use its money to organise political demonstrations against the government, nor does it use it on lawyers fees for the prosecution of rock groups over the content of their lyrics. Perhaps even more importantly, this association does not support the conspiracy theories which attempt to attribute the authorship of the bombings to an alliance between ETA and the Spanish government. Instead, it devotes it's time and resources to representing the victims of the worst terrorist attack in the country's history, an activity which Madrid's government clearly does not believe to be sufficiently worthy of financial support.

The scales are tipping to the right...

Meanwhile, the bizarre case of the "boric acid report" supposedly linking ETA to the Madrid bombings is moving towards an ever more absurd conclusion. The Madrid judge Gemma Gallego has overturned all of the conclusions in the case that were reached by fellow judge Baltasar Garzón, who accused the original authors of the report of committing an act of falsification of official documents. Gallego has cleared the three police officers who prepared the original report, explaining their curious decision to reissue their report 16 months after the original was rejected by saying that they had noticed the original was no longer in its envelope. We are offered no further explanation of their actions and no mention is made of the fact that all copies of the report almost immediately made it into the hands of El Mundo following this decision to reissue.

On top of this, Gallego has prepared the way for almost the entire chain of command of these officers to be prosecuted for the offence of falsification; no fewer than four senior officers are facing the possibility of being charged. All of this because an entirely speculative paragraph relating the discovery of boric acid, a common household substance, in the home of one of those accused for the Madrid bombings to the same substance being found in the safe house in of an ETA commando, was removed from the final version of the report. There is no connection between the two discoveries, there is no suggestion that boric acid was used in either case for anything relating to terrorist activities, and there is no record of boric acid ever having been used in such activities in Spain. The decision to delete the reference to ETA in what is supposed to be a report based on scientific analysis is entirely justified.

Perhaps Gallego has strong legal reasons for the conclusions she has reached, but her handling of the case has been far less transparent or comprehensive than that carried out by Garzón, who explained his reasons in detail. El Mundo is already running with the issue as if those accused have been convicted, should that actually happen the conspiracy theorists can be expected to go into overdrive with their allegations that connections between ETA and the bombings have been suppressed as a result of political pressure from the government. Wait a minute, did I forget to mention something? Oh yes, judge Gallego is a candidate of the conservative judges association for election to the Consejo Superior del Poder Judicial. This body is supposed to play an important part in the running of the judicial system, but it has recently become discredited because the current conservative majority has acted as a partisan bloc adopting decisions with evident political intentions. Given the behaviour of the current Consejo, it is unlikely anyone is nominated for the conservative association without being a loyal follower of the party line; Gallego should feel at home if she is chosen.

I have no idea whether the courts in Madrid have a statue of the Scales of Justice, but if they do I suggest the best thing to do would be to place it in a dark corner and cover it with a sack, because justice has recently become a rare and precious commodity in these parts.

No comments: