Judge Garzon: A human rights angel on earth or the devil’s advocate?
Posted by Fernando Celaya on April 23, 2010
I don’t think most commentators get the point regarding the Garzon indictments claiming a great injustice is being committed with the investigative judge. What is most striking is their lacking display and/or knowledge of Spanish history and that regarding Garzon’s experience in the Spanish judiciary.
First, the authority vested upon Garzon by the principal of universal jurisdiction “in Spain” did allow the prosecution of almost anyone who had committed crimes against humanity, though the aspiring ideal was judges would work on cases where “Spaniards”, wherever, had been victims as in Chile or Argentina. Thus, at the time Garzon attempted Pichochet’s extradition, I too was thrilled with the judge’s opinion. It made legal and moral sense.
Second, the key question is not so much that Garzon declared himself “competent” to unveil the wounds of Spain’s civil war in breach of the 1977 amnesty, but rather his insistence on prosecuting individuals on Franco’s side and not on the Republican/Communist side… who in the early stages of the civil war actually committed the most sanguine massacre (“Paracuellos”) of the entire conflict, which polarized one side versus the other even further.
Thus, judge Garzon, failed to appear to present a balanced cause, clearly abusing his authority. Furthermore, Spain is a deeply politicized country. The Attorney General’s Office of one party, especially the PSOE party has acted throughout Spain’s democratic history as a tool for GOVs objectives and thus, other organizations need (and have the right) to defend their dignity, regardless of their political coloring. Indeed there is an interest in Spanish politics and media to fuel and maintain old and tired discourses of left-right… while youth just wants to be able to work, live the present and look forward to a better future; not something happening currently with this terribly incompetent get-rich-fast-while-you-can government.
A significant number of Judge Garzon’s opinions in domestic cases are lacking. Summary instructions in these cases are deficient in form and content and have resulted in criminals just “walking” away from justice; from the Polanco case’s fiscal fraud (which triggered the rise of the liberal political media machine “masking the PSOE government’s dirty laundry”) to the GAL; and most recently the Gurtel case, where it has been evidenced Garzon authorized illegal eavesdropping on opposition party leaders and business associates, resulting, in some instances, in the breach of attorney-client privileges. This has only been authorized in Spain once/twice and is allowed exclusively on terrorism cases, not on other types of investigations, especially those with political coloring.
One of the latest indictments against judge Garzon involves monies alledgedly received from Banco Santander CEO, financier mogul Emilio Botin, purportedly for a seminar at New York University. Interestingly, the judge, upon his return to Spain, dismissed an investigation against Mr. Botin. Yet in what may be one of the most damaging prosecutiorial performances for the rule of law in Spain history, judge Garzon alledgedly took part in the cover up of the tip-off to ETA members in a pending police investigation against the terrorist group.
Indeed, whether commentators like it or not, Garzon is a tainted judge who enjoys self-indulgence, following his failed stint at politics with the PSOE party over a decade ago. Independence cannot follow if you light a candle for God and another for the Devil. It was about time the board of judges and the Supreme Court acted expediently, for no citizen should be above the rule of law and Mr. Garzon holds in his basket not one, but three serious indictments for abuse of power.