Difficult to understand, difficult for Garzón
By Typically Spanish Editor - Howard Brereton - Apr 18, 2010 - 1:28 PM
The judiciary in Spain is in a mess, and from top to bottom
At the bottom and local level a shortage of resources means delayed justice for most, with all that may imply, while right at the top, the Constitutional Court has spent four years considering the Catalan Statute and still cannot decide whether it is constitutional or not.
Judicial opinion in the Constitutional Court is, it seems, split along party political lines, and the same can be said about what has turned into a campaign of attacks on Judge Baltasar Garzón.
One of Spain’s leading judges, especially in the all-important area of human rights now faces suspension or the loss of his job, as three simultaneous attacks get underway against him in the Supreme Court.
I find it hard to understand how it can be that in the case of his investigations into the disappearance of people during the Franco years, it will be the same magistrates who admitted the case, and also rejected Garzón’s last appeal, who will decide on his future, and all because of the initial complaints of the far right Manos Limpias and the fascist Falange.
I find it hard to understand how Judge Luciano Varela was selected to instruct the case, when he is already on record of disapproving and personally disliking Judge Garzón and his undoubted ability to seek the limelight.
Varela is even on record has saying God has come to earth twice, once in Bethlehem, and again in Torres, Jaén, the birthplace of Judge Garzón. Varela has so far rejected all the requests from Garzón for other items of evidence to be included. I see little initial impartiality there.
Five Supreme Court judges will hear Garzón’s case, five of them can be considered to be conservative and just one progressive, and Juan Saavedra Ruiz, who is president of the Penal Hall of the court is also on record from 2007 as being ‘totally against’ the so-called star judge, Baltasar Garzón.
The root of the case will be the legal question as to whether Garzón overstepped his authority by starting the investigation, but even if this proves to be the case, does it warrant him losing his career, and the consequent disruption to the many cases already open, such as Gürtel? The Partido Popular and right wing would, of course, hope so.
But the questions over the human rights crimes committed during the Franco years will not go away, despite the terms of the 1997 amnesty. The families desperately seeking answers will not go away either.
And, as most of the international press has already recognised, whatever the outcome the mere decision to proceed against Garzón has further damaged the already deteriorated image of the Spanish judiciary.