Al Jazeera reports on Baltasar Garzón defending his investigation of Franco-era crimes.
“The amnesty law refers to crimes of a political nature, in no way can it be said that crimes against humanity of the kind that were alleged could have any political nature,” the 56-year-old judge said.
“As such it was not even necessary to make a reference to the amnesty law,” he said on the opening day of his testimony in Madrid.
Victims’ families who filed the case in 2006 had described disappearances, illegal detentions and killings, which amounted “in some cases to crimes against humanity, genocide,” he said.
The judge is being prosecuted for ordering the investigation in 2008 into the disappearance of 114,000 people during Spain’s 1936 to 1939 civil war and General Francisco Franco’s subsequent dictatorship.
Garzón is charged with exceeding his powers on the grounds that the alleged crimes were covered by an amnesty agreed in 1977 as Spain moved towards democracy two years after Franco’s death.
“Garzón showed today that his decision to take up the investigation of the crimes of the Franco era was fully supported by international law,” Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, who was in the court, said.
“But the spectacle of a judge as a criminal defendant, having to justify his investigation into torture, killings and ‘disappearances,’ was itself an affront to principles of human rights and judicial independence,” he said in a statement.
Remember when Musharraf fired all those judges? For that matter, remember when the Bush admin did the same thing? It’s an affront.