Monday, April 12, 2010

An Injustice in Spain

Spain A New York Times editorial last week called "An Injustice in Spain" decried the politically-motivated prosecution of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who is charged with ignoring a 1977 amnesty law when he decided to investigate the disappearances of more than 100,000 people during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and the Franco Fascist decade that followed.

The two far-right groups who brought the charges against Judge Garzon were afraid of an open investigation of the Franco era.

As the New York Times notes: "Unfortunately, one of Mr. Garzon's fellow magistrates sustained the complaint and brought formal charges [last] week."

Judge Garzon will now be suspended from his duties pending trial, and if convicted he could be removed from the bench for 20 years.  As the New York Times states, "That would please his political enemies, but it would be a travesty of justice.  The real crimes in the case are the disappearances, not Mr. Garzon's investigation.  If, as seems likely, these were crimes against humanity under international law, Spain's 1977 amnesty could not legally absolve them.  The suspected perpetrators are all dead, and Mr. Garzon long ago halted his investigation, passing jurisdiction to local Spanish courts in the areas where the victims were exhumed."

The editorial reviews more of Judge Garzon's judicial record in bring cases that promote human rights.  The editorial concludes that he should be allowed to resume his human rights work at the earliest date, and that "Spain needs an honest accounting of its troubled past, no prosecution of those who have the courage to demand it."


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