An affront to principles of human rights

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.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … remember when the Bush admin did the same thing?

    Actually, no.

    The Shrub regime canned a lot of federal attorneys for a rankly partisan and thoroughly dishonest reason, but – even though Spanish judges have somewhat similar investigatory functions – that’s not quite close enough to call it “the same thing”.

    Or did I miss yet another GWB scandal?

  2. zackoz says

    It was Garzon, (wasn’t it?) who issued a European arrest warrant for Pinochet, causing the latter some problems when he visited the UK at some stage. This was another example – like the trials of Milosevic, Taylor et al – which at last underlined to brutal tyrants that sooner or later international law just might catch up with them.

    So, Garzon seems to be a crusading judge who might easily outrage the remnants of the pro-Franco right or the more conservative parts of the judiciary; but as I’m no expert on Spanish politics or law, I may be leaping to conclusions.

  3. sailor1031 says

    @Pierce R. Butler: they weren’t judges so much, rather they were federal prosecutors and their crime was that they did not avidly pursue federal and state politicians who were deemed to be too democrat and therefore enemies of the Bush-Cheney regime. The republicans are always on the hunt for “activist judges”by which they meanjudges who can interpret the law in an objective fashion.

    In the matter of Pinochet, let us never forget that it was the conservative Saint Margaret Thatcher who gave the murderer Pinochet sanctuary and immunity from prosecution. Just living out those conservative “ideals” I guess!!

    As for what’s currently happening inSpain – what’s the betting that RCC Inc is behind this malicious prosecution because they know it will just bring up even more dirt about the RCC Inc involvement if the murders committed by the Franco party and regime. Somewhere baby yeshue is crying!

  4. Your Name's not Bruce? says


    Wasn’t he reported as “still dead” on Saturday Night Live back in 1976?

    I hope he still is. Dead, that is.

  5. F says

    If the news coverage continues as it has done so far, it may do some good, and backfire on those choosing to prsecute Garzón as well.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    sailor1031 @ # 5: … their crime was that they did not avidly pursue federal and state politicians who were deemed to be too democrat and therefore enemies of the Bush-Cheney regime.

    More specifically, they did not jump on the bogus “voter fraud” bandwagon Karl Rove & Co. were/are using to block voting by minorities, students, and other demographic groups tending to vote Democratic. (The same bandwagon rolls on, being the vehicle for tightened voter-ID requirements and other otherwise pointless voter obstruction laws spreading around the country thanks to the (Republican/1%) American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the usual ineffectual pseudo-resistance from the Democratic Party.)

  7. yoav says

    Just like the amphibian’s plan to eliminate federal district courts that make ruling he don’t like and have judges dragged before congress to defend their decisions.

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