Thursday, February 11, 2010

Garzón's Enemies Sharpen Their Knives

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?


Pueblo girl said...

I don't comment on here half as much as I ought to. But usually I have nothing to say, as you've managed to express exactly what I feel far better than I would.

Worse is that I've more or less stopped reading the papers since I discovered your blog - confident that anything that might interest me will appear here...

Graeme said...

Fortunately South of Watford doesn't apply a quota on the number of comments left by readers, although all policies on this blog can be subject to sudden and arbitrary changes. Relying on me for the news is a bit dangerous, either out of laziness or just because I like to see how things turn out I usually wait a while before posting on an issue.

santcugat said...

I think a trial of Garzon would be a pretty good wakeup call for the Spanish justice system.

By over-reaching against Garzon, his enemies will do much more damage to themselves than anything Garzon could have done himself.

Troy said...

We can be surprised about the actions against him, but I do think that it's a wake up call for many.

They may look pretty and even modern with their blue logo and tieless open-collar shirts, but there are many...any I mean many out there who wouldn't mind in the least if Cara al Sol was reinstituted.

Some say that it's rehashing old wounds, but given the perfect storm...these nutters have the perfect faceman, or should I say botoxed woman to front them in their backwards quest for modernity.

Tom said...

This coalition against Garzón stinks. It seems to be based entirely on far-right politics and jealousy.

@santcugat - I'm not sure about that. I've never really bought this argument that doing something inherently wrong will somehow make things turn out for the better in the long run, simply because the people will see through you in the end. That theory seems far too dependent on various people doing exactly the right thing, at exactly the right time... which I always feel a bit nervous about.

The judiciary and the right-wing press will crow endlessly if Garzón is convicted of anything. Clipping the judge's wings won't help the campaign for justice.

It'd be far better if they weren't allowed to get away with it in the first place.

Jan said...

I'm afraid I'm very ignorant about Spanish politics, apart from what we learn in the village and from the little bit we watch TV3... which is why I've started reading your blog.

Graeme said...


You're very welcome - I guess you probably realise already that my take on Spanish news isn't tainted by any old fashioned notions about objectivity.


I think I agree with Tom, this case is rapidly approaching the point where there will be little possibility of anyone backing down, however sorry a spectacle it produces. If they take Garzón to trial there is very little possibility of him being acquitted.


"these nutters have the perfect faceman, or should I say botoxed woman" .

A frightening prospect - who could it possibly be?

Anonymous said...

Garzon isn't a stupid man. The amnesty law has already been rules in violation of Spain's treaty obligations... yet nothing has changed. So they can go ahead and prosecute him for violating the amnesty law, he can take it to ECHR and have them annul his conviction because the relevant law is itself invalid. = fascists and 'liberal' enablers are castrated.

Graeme said...

The problem with that is that Garzón won't be able to take his case to Europe until he has exhausted legal possibilities in Spain - which could take years, especially as his fellow judges don't like working afternoons. Not necessarily a problem if there are no other effects but Garzón might well find himself kicked out of his job while he pursues the case.

santcugat said...

It's not quite clear to me why the CGPJ would rush to try to suspend Garzon before any charges are filed officially. If they waited until Garzon is charged, then suspension would be a no-brainer.

Unless they are trying to be truly evil and suspend him pending the charges and then the charges are never filed.

Graeme said...

That's one possibility, and it seems from what I have read that some of his worst enemies are on the CGPJ. They've now had to back down a bit and at least let him have his say before being suspended.