The Baltasar Garzón Case: In Spain, justice itself is on trial

“The Supreme Court of Spain should deserve our respect. What we now appear to see is a court populated by kangaroos, full of malicious and evil intent.

But then the law, and the demand for justice, sometimes produce miracles.

The members of the Spanish Supreme Court are sworn to uphold justice, and have spent their careers pursuing a calling whose end is justice. They may yet respond to the age-old and deeper call for justice, correcting the grave deficiencies in the proceedings to date against Garzón, by reaching a just verdict in both the Gürtel network and the “historical memory” cases. Failure to aquit Garzón in either would constitute a true case of prevaricación.

The brighter the lights on these nefarious proceedings, the louder the critical analysis and the more outspoken the criticism, perhaps the greater the odds will be that such a miracle may still occur in the case of Baltasar Garzón.”

In a kind of perfect storm orchestrated by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Spain, two of the three cases that have been brought against Investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón of the Audiencia Nacional are coming to trial this week and next. After sitting on the cases for two years, the honorable justices of the Supreme Court appear to have decided to maximize the stress on Garzón and his lawyers by trying him in both cases practically at the same time.

For reports of the cases against Garzón and the first day’s proceedings in the so-called Gürtel Wiretap cases (las escuchas Gürtel), see

“Baltasar Garzon, famed for inquiries into abuses in Spain and Latin America, faces charges of abusing judicial powers, Al Jazeera (English), January 17, 2012 (TV report).

El Observador Incisivo (The Trenchant Observer), “¡Que pena para España! Los casos contra Garzón llegan al juicio,” 16 de enero de 2012. This article may be translated into English using Google Translate, for a pretty good machine translation.

First impressions from today:

To hear this vigorous man speak in a raspy and stress-filled voice in the opening moments of the trial was to appreciate in an instant the enormous human toll that has been extracted from him by the Spanish state, acting through its judiciary. No matter how courageous the judge or defendant, the power of the state is always awesome and, without the defense of the law in action, it can easily crush anyone.

The cases against Garzón, which the Trenchant Observer has been following for over two years, seem to represent an evil attempt to destroy him for being a courageous judge — one willing to expose the immense corruption of the Partido Popular by the Gürtel gang or network, one willing to touch upon–ever so slightly–the massive crimes committed by Franco and his government up until his death on November 20, 1975.

By coincidence, exactly 37 years later to the day, the Partido Popular won parliamentary elections resulting in the ascension of Mariano Rajoy to the position of president of the government (roughly equivalent to prime minister).

There is an interesting U.S. angle to Garzón’s tribulations as well. Garzón authorized investigations into the torture of two Spanish nationals at Guantánamo, and also was poised to investigate six lawyers in the Justice Department and the White House responsible for the architecture of the torture policy of the Bush administration. According to Wikileaks cables, the U.S. intervened with the Spanish government, exercised presssure, and Gárzon was removed from these cases.

See Carlos Yárnoz, “US Embassy conspired to derail cases in Spain’s High Court:
Wikileaks reveals that prosecutors kept diplomats abreast of their legal strategies, with Washington lawmakers also intervening,” El País, November 30, 2011 (English edition);

In October, 2009, the Spanish government secured the amendment of the law to eliminate the exercise of “universal jurisdiction” over the authors of crimes like torture.

So, at the very least, the U.S. signaled to Spain that it wanted to eliminate Garzon’s participation in these cases. Whether that amounted to a green light to go after him and to take him out of action, and if so whether that has any bearing on the extraordinary lengths to which the Spanish Supreme Court has gone in order to end his career, has not been established. However, it seems like a plausible scenario.

See

Craig Whitlock, “Universal Jurisdiction': Spain’s Judges Target Torture: High-Ranking US Officials Among Targets of Inquiries,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2009.

José Yoldi, “Las Cortes recortan la jurisdicción universal,” El País, 16 de octubre de 2009

Jesús Duva, “Bajo la lupa de EE.UU.: El antiamericano’ Garzón tuvo especial seguimiento; La Embajada consideraba al magistrado un personaje incómodo y presionó para acabar con la jurisdicción universal,”El País, 2 de diciembre de 2010. (A number of U.S. cables relating to Garzón and released by Wikileaks are reproduced in the December 2, 2010 edition of El País.)

See also Amy Goodman, “Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón on Holding Torturers Accountable, Why He Opposes the Killing of Osama bin Laden, and His Threatened Ouster from the Bench,”Democracy Now, May 12, 2010.

Manifiesto–Plataforma de Aoyo al Juez Garzon, www.congarzon.com

Europe, the international community, and all advocates of the rule of law should keep bright lights shining on the proceedings underway in the Spanish Supreme Court.

These days will live in history, and may be cited as emblematic of a corrupt society in which the criminals succeeded in ending the career of the magistrate who ordered their detention, and/or the far-right parties reminiscent of Franco’s Spain succeeded in bringing a case against the judge who would have opened the first page in the historical record of the abuses committed under Franco. The plaintiffs were reportedly aided by the active assistance of the first-instance judge in preparing their case. He sits on one of the panels that will judge Garzón.

The Supreme Court of Spain should deserve our respect. What we now appear to see is a court populated by kangaroos, full of malicious and evil intent.

But then the law, and the demand for justice, sometimes produce miracles.

The members of the Spanish Supreme Court are sworn to uphold justice, and have spent their careers pursuing a calling whose end is justice. They may yet respond to the age-old and deeper call for justice, correcting the grave deficiencies in the proceedings against Garzón, by reaching a just verdict in both the Gürtel network and the “historical memory” cases. Failure to aquit Garzón in either would constitute a true case of prevaricación.

The brighter the lights on these nefarious proceedings, the louder the critical analysis and the more outspoken the criticism, perhaps the greater the odds will be that such a miracle may still occur in the case of Baltasar Garzón.

The Trenchant Observer

observer@trenchantobserver.com
www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv

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