Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Great Year For Judicial Madness

If we need proof that things don't really change just because the calendar shows a new year, we have as evidence the Spanish Supreme Court. Today this institution was busy dealing with one of the multitude of cases brought by right wing fringe groups whose main objective seems to be to bring an already frail judicial system to a complete halt. The case in question involved the ongoing attempt to prosecute the current Basque president, Patxi Lopez, and his predecessor Juan Jose Ibarretxe for having talked to ETA's political wing during the failed peace process in the region a couple of years ago.

Some sanity prevailed, and the Supreme Court decided that talking to Batasuna as part of an attempt to bring an end to terrorism doesn't constitute a crime. However they did it in a way which suggested that it was right to bring the case against the politicians involved and therefore justifiable that the Supreme Court should rule on such matters. This court has developed a habit of setting precedents which suit its convenience in cases with a political impact. They have what we could call the bankers doctrine which set free the president of Banco Santander when the state prosecutors refused to present a case and there were no individuals directly affected. When the same circumstances have applied to politicians they have reversed this doctrine and allowed cases presented purely for political motives to proceed even though prosecutors argue there is no case to answer.

When a similar attempt was made to prosecute Zapatero for the same "offence" concerning the Basque peace process the court delivered a very sensible ruling that said that the separation of powers doesn't permit judges to assume powers that rightly belong to democratically elected institutions, and that the attempt to negotiate an end to ETA's terrorism belonged to the political sphere. It seems that the same court has now decided that the decision belongs to them instead.

In a similar vein we have the equally crazy case against Baltasar Garzón for having the temerity to open an investigation into the victims of Franco's regime. This act of judicial revenge against Garzón is not only still open but from today it has a new player invited on board - none other than the fascist Falange have been allowed to join the other equally ultra right wing groups that presented the original case against the judge. Garzon's lawyer has been quick off the mark in asking how likely it would be for a German court to permit a neo-nazi group to bring a case against a judge who dared to investigate Nazi crimes. Spain is different on this issue and the judges say the past must stay buried. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this case is that it allows all of these organisations to have access to the data on victims that formed part of Garzon's investigation. So fascist organisations can be handed the personal details on those relatives of Franco's victims who have presented claims. Doesn't sound like justice to me.


santcugat said...

Here's another one where a judge refuses to evict squatters from someone's apartment because he thinks the squatters are too poor to find anywhere else to live.

Graeme said...

The link doesn't seem to work, but in any case just on the basis of things I've read this morning I could write another similar post.

santcugat said...