Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yo Apoyo A Garzón / I Support Garzón

This post forms part of a simultaneous protest by bloggers against the judicial process that threatens to remove Baltasar Garzón from his position for having opened a case investigating the victims of Franco's repression. The growing campaign against this persecution of Garzón can also be followed on Twitter using the hash tag #apoyoagarzon.

This is not a situation where keeping quiet will help in any way. Garzón is accused of having knowingly exceeded his powers because he opened the lid on the circumstances that led to the death of tens of thousands of victims of Franco's dictatorship. Many of these victims still lie in unmarked graves scattered around Spain. Should he be removed from his position over this issue it will serve as a warning to the rest of the Spanish judiciary from those who seek to prohibit any attempt to come to terms with the past. Ironically, perhaps the Argentinian courts may take the issue further as a case is being presented in that country to investigate what the senior ranks of the Spanish judiciary seek to hide from view.

The way in which the case against Garzón is being handled by the investigating judge, Luciano Varela, is disgraceful. Varela accuses Garzón of having knowingly ignored the amnesty law passed in the 1970's and makes a whole series of unsubstantiated judgements about Garzon's intentions as well as attributing to Garzón judicial resolutions that were not even made by him. In the process of doing this he has committed a far more serious abuse of the judicial process than anything that Garzón could be accused of doing.

Varela systematically ignores international law on the issues affecting the (forcibly) disappeared and those who were subjected to other human rights abuses. Spain is a signatory of the major treaties on these issues and Varela is not entitled to ignore these treaties simply because it doesn't help his case. Additionally, he has rejected all requests by Garzon's lawyer to take testimony on the issues at the heart of the case. That means rejecting evidence from international experts and a point-blank refusal to consider the arguments of other Spanish judges who share Garzon's positions.

Such behaviour on the part of Varela makes it clear that the case against Garzón is not motivated by questions of law. Add to this the likely prospect that the court hearing the case will be headed by a judge who is a patron of the ultra right-wing DENAES (The Foundation for the Defence of the Spanish Nation). As if that isn't already enough, the accusing parties will be a collection of equally right-wing groups; including the fascist Falange. The stage is set for a dangerous judicial farce.

To find a parallel to this situation, you have to imagine a group of German Nazis being allowed to bring a case against a judge who had investigated the activities of Hitler's regime. The tribunal would be presided by someone who had sworn loyalty to that same Nazi regime. It wouldn't happen. It couldn't happen in Germany, but here in Spain that is the situation that is happening now with the case against Baltasar Garzón.


Colin said...

Graeme, All your points are (very) well taken but it's ultimately a question of law as to whether Garzón's actions have breached any law(s). Putting aside both the question of whether he should ever have been accused of anything and Varela's performance todate, are you saying Garzón won't get a fair trial? Because of (right-wing) political bias in the relevant court(s)? And/or because he's also made enemies on the Left?

Colin said...

Sorry, Graeme. I wrote that when I was half-way through your post. You have answered this question in the second half, except for my rider about any role of those on the Left whom Garzón has upset. Though I guess they don't need to do anything but stay silent.

Graeme said...

Varela himself has traditionally been associated with the left in the judiciary (assuming such a thing can be said to exist). But he is a close ally of those linked to Felipe Gonzalez who became enemies of Garzón over the case that made him a hero for the right - the GAL investigation.

Colin said...

No wonder most of us are confused. Not to say inredulous.