The case against judge Baltasar Garzón over his decision to investigate crimes committed by Franco's regime has moved closer to seeing Garzón suspended from his duties as a judge. Such a suspension would just be the precursor of the judge being put on trial charged with perverting the course of justice. The judicial governing body in Spain, the Consejo General del Poder Judicial, has passed the buck onto prosecutors over whether Garzón should be suspended now, but it seems that the prosecutors are not up for the job. Normally a judge cannot be suspended until a firm accusation has been made and the case is set for trial.
There seems little doubt at the moment that Garzón will end up in court, the investigating judge in the Supreme Court has rejected his last appeal and it looks like the case will end up in the hands of the same court that accepted the original accusation from the far right Manos Limpias. The investigating judge claims that Garzón deliberately disregarded the amnesty law that was passed in 1977 in order to proceed with his investigation. This is a law that the United Nations has previously asked Spain to repeal because it contravenes international conventions signed by the Spanish government.
It wouldn't be fair to say that all of those who are out to get Garzón are just from the political right. The judge who has prepared the case against him for the Supreme Court has always been associated with the more progressive current of the judiciary. What does seem to be the case, though, is that Garzon's decision to open the civil war case has created an alliance of convenience between the most conservative sections of the judiciary and his other enemies, of which he seems to have plenty. The case is being handled in a manifestly unjust way, whilst a fine collection of extreme right wing groups has been assembled to support the accusation, representatives of the victims of Franco's regime are denied the possibility of participating.
At the same time another case claiming that Garzón unjustly favoured the president of the Banco de Santander has been revived even though it's already been previously rejected as unfounded by the Supreme Court. It looks very much a case of trying one thing, and if that fails then going with another. It's going to offer a tremendous image of the Spanish judicial system if Garzón goes to trial. Whilst other countries (of which Brazil is just the latest) deal with those who committed the crimes, in Spain it will be the judge who tried to investigate them that gets put on trial....with the accusation against him presented by those who still carry the standard for the dictatorship. It's a bit of a cliche to say "Spain is different", but in this case?