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Judge who investigated Pinochet and Francoists charged with breaking law that may not even be valid [View All]

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ck4829 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-10-10 05:47 AM
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Judge who investigated Pinochet and Francoists charged with breaking law that may not even be valid
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Judge Baltasar Garzn's latest case once again involves a high profile defendant: himself. After making headlines around the world for going after the likes of Osama bin Laden, the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet or Silvio Berlusconi, the Spanish judge will be sitting in the dock rather than presiding, charged with "perverting the course of justice".

The reason? He dared to launch an investigation of the crimes of the Francoist dictatorship that ruled Spain between 1936 and 1975 and carried out well over 100,000 summary executions without proper trial. And if you think this is odd just wait, there's more: the plaintiffs in this case are three far-right political organisations, among them Falange Espaola, none other than the old Fascist party, which is in fact credited with most of those atrocities Garzn was set to investigate.

Actually, he didn't really intended to investigate any atrocities at all, rather he was acting at the behest of victim's relatives who wanted to find and exhume their bodies. As I have written in a previous article, there are more mass graves in Spain than in Bosnia and still more missing persons than in Argentina. What Garzn did was to demand information about their possible murderers as a necessary step to searching for the corpses. Even this was too much.

Franco died in bed, and the transition towards democracy was piloted by a group of young Francoists and a king who had been appointed by the General (skipping his father, the actual heir to the crown). True, the opposition went along with it, mostly for fear of a military coup (which happened anyway, and failed). But whatever the merit of the choices made back then, a dangerous myth was born: that Francoism's lack of accountability was the price to pay for having a democracy, while democracy is all about accountability. The fact is that since then we have moved into a different world, one in which human rights abuses should always be investigated, no matter the arrangements made by the perpetrators. One of those arrangements could be the 1977 amnesty law, which is at the heart of the Garzn case. In the interpretation of judges Prego and Varela, that law grants a blanket pardon for any political offence committed from the beginning of life on earth to that year of 1977, and Garzn, by ignoring it, would have abused his powers.

And yet, should all this be of any importance? The 1977 law is pre-constitutional and a general pardon for crimes against humanity would be in contradiction with international treaties signed by Spain. That is why in 2008 the UN human rights committee demanded that it be scrapped on the grounds that it could lead to serious misunderstandings. And right they were. Only that it's not exactly a misunderstanding.

So, basically Garzon has been charged with breaking a law that not only has no mention in the post-Franco constitution, but it is also in violation of several international treaties that Spain has signed.

Geez, they might as well just dig up Franco's corpse and put it in charge, right?
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