Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Keep Quiet....Or Your Freedom Might Be In Danger

Things seemed to have gone very quiet concerning the judicial persecution of Baltasar Garzón by the Spanish Supreme Court. It was only to be expected that, following the frenzied activity provoked by his bid to leave Spain and work in the International Criminal Court, that the course of justice would resume the more leisurely pace normally expected of it. However, the end of summer has produced some new developments in two of the three cases brought against the exiled judge.

First of all came the rejection of Garzon's appeal against the conduct of the case against him concerning Franco's victims. Oddly enough, the appeal was heard by exactly the same panel of judges who intend to hear the main case when it comes to court. This highights an interesting factor in the whole situation, the persecution of Garzón is not necessarily being led by the Supreme Court as a whole, it is instead the action of a handful of judges who are seemingly determined to keep the case to themselves. This odd situation meant that the judges could not enter into the arguments presented by Garzón's lawyer for fear of jeopardising their right to hear the main case. So the appeal was dismissed without even being properly considered.

Another strange situation has surfaced in another of the cases against Garzón. This case is the one concerning the allegation that he favoured the Banco de Santander in a case after being sponsored by the same bank during his sabbatical period in New York. The judge investigating this case has clearly not found the evidence he is looking for to sustain the accusation. Faced with the somewhat humiliating prospect of having to drop the case, he has instead opted to get the Guardia Civil to trawl through all of Garzon's financial history in the hope that they come up with something. Its a bit of a desperate measure and very obviously a fishing exercise to try and find anything to bolster a faltering accusation. Garzón undoubtedly earns plenty of money and having his financial history opened to inspection in this way will be embarrassing, regardless of whether it brings up anything relevant to the case against him.

A couple of senior figures in the Supreme Court have recently issued renewed calls for criticism of the court's actions to stop. One senior judge even claimed that such criticism threatens democracy. The difficult relationship that always seems to exist between judges and freedom of expression continues to show itself. Perhaps it has something to do with their tradition? There could be a reasonable case, especially in these times when people who do the job they are supposed to do are having their salaries slashed, for deducting the salary of the judges for all the time they spend on settling scores with their enemies. But then in the situation concerning Garzón that might carry the risk of leaving the señorias without enough money to live on.


adamvasco said...

Keep up the good work Graeme.
It would be good if you could put names to some these "arbitrors" of justice.

Graeme said...

By all means - it was Saavedra who claimed that democracy is endangered if you criticise the Supremo. Then there is Varela, Prego, and Marchena amongst others.