Thursday, May 13, 2010

Garzón Chooses Exile Over Suspension

The judicial persecution of Baltasar Garzón is now reaching a crucial phase. The other day, Garzón played what may be his last card before facing trial accused of acting unjustly in his investigation of Franco's repression. With the failure of his, well-founded, challenge to the partiality of judge Luciano Varela, Garzón could see clearly that things were not going his way. So he unveiled a plan to seek a transfer to the International Criminal Court in The Hague where he would act as an advisor. Initially for a few months, with the possibility of a longer extension.

Garzón's intention was not to avoid trial through this move, the case against him does not depend on him continuing to work as a judge in Spain. It was however a pre-emptive move against what looks like being his almost certain suspension from his current post in the Audiencia Nacional. His challenge to Varela, after the latter assisted the far right group of Manos Limpias in preparing their accusation against Garzón, was dealt with very quickly and in a way which suggested that Garzón has no friends at all in the Spanish Supreme Court. A worthy contender for any award for judicial cynicism, the challenge was dismissed on the bizarre grounds that Varela's assistance to those who are out to get Garzón was guaranteeing the rights of the accused!

Then, once Garzón had announced his intention to seek the transfer to The Hague the wheels of justice suddenly started to move bewilderingly fast. Varela issued a whirlwind of decisions and documents including the formal "auto" which officially commits Garzón for trial. This, despite the fact that there are still appeals pending against Varela's decisions from Garzón himself and from state prosecutors who argue that the case has no foundation. It seems fairly clear that Garzón's enemies are determined to see him suspended and are now seeking to prevent him from getting the transfer by fast tracking the accusation against him. Once he is suspended of course, the pace of "justice" will be expected once again to leave most snails looking like boy racers.

So all eyes will now be on the specially convened meeting tomorrow of the Consejo General del Poder Judicial (CGPJ). This meeting has to consider both the possible suspension of Garzón and his request for a transfer to the ICC; which has already been given the green light by Spain's foreign ministry. What they do will be the true test of the weight of Garzón's many enemies, some of whom occupy comfortable positions on the CGPJ itself. If they deny the transfer request it will be because they want to see him completely out of action, regardless of whether the accusations against him eventually succeed or not. Together with the equally pathetic spectacle created around the Constitutional Court over its verdict on Cataluña's Estatut, we can now say that the Supreme Court is seriously competing to be the most discredited judicial institution in the country. The judges don't seem to care much about that, they want their prey.


Pueblo girl said...

The good news is coming in thick and fast, isn't it :(

lost said...

The way things are going for Garzon, I wouldn't be surprised if the CGJP would claim that they have to deny Garzon's request in order to protect the international reputation of the Spanish justice system.