“Perseguir al juez Garzón por indagar en los crímenes de la era de Franco es una ofensa a la justicia y a la historia”, según el editorial del diario The New York Times que recoge hoy 20minutos.es.
Por su interés (y también para el archivo del blog) lo copio y lo pego a continuación:
OPINION | February 05, 2012
Editorial: Truth on Trial in Spain
Prosecuting Judge Baltasar Garz’on for digging into Franco-era crimes is an offense against justice and history.
Truth on Trial in Spain
Published: February 4, 2012
Terrible crimes were committed during and after Spain’s 1936-39 civil war that no court has yet examined or judged. No one knows how many people were taken away, tortured and murdered. Now, one of Spain’s top investigating magistrates, Baltasar Garzón, is on trial for daring to open an inquiry into those atrocities.
Related in Opinion
Op-Ed Contributor: A Judge in the Dock (January 26, 2012)
Spain is now a vibrant democracy, but Judge Garzón’s trial, which opened last week, is a disturbing echo of the Franco era’s totalitarian thinking. He faces criminal charges that could suspend him from the bench for 20 years for defying an amnesty enacted in 1977 to smooth the transition to democracy. He rightly counters that under international law, there can be no amnesty for crimes against humanity and that unsolved disappearances — thousands of mass graves are unopened — constitute a continuing crime.
In 2008, Judge Garzón briefly began an official inquiry, ordering the opening of 19 mass graves and symbolically indicting Gen. Francisco Franco and several former officials, none still alive, for the disappearance of more than 100,000 people. An appellate court shut the inquiry down. The next year, two far-right groups brought criminal charges against the judge for defying the amnesty law. The government’s prosecutor argued that no crime had been committed, but the Supreme Court accepted the case.
Separately, Judge Garzón faces criminal charges for rulings in two other politically charged cases. We cannot judge the merits of these. But criminal prosecution of magistrates for their rulings is rare in Spain, and could chill judicial independence.
Judge Garzón became famous for his prosecutions of Basque terrorists, Argentine torturers, Chile’s former dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and Spanish politicians. His powerful enemies now see a chance to end his career.
Judge Garzón is undeniably flamboyant and at times overreaches, but prosecuting him for digging into Franco-era crimes is an offense against justice and history. The Spanish Supreme Court never should have accepted this case. Now it must acquit him.
A version of this editorial appeared in print on February 5, 2012, on page SR10 of the New York edition with the headline: Truth on Trial in Spain
También copio y pego un artículo de opinión del diario The New York Times, publicado el pasado 26 de enero, sobre el juicio contra el juez Garzón:
A Judge in the Dock
By DAN KAUFMAN
Political vendettas have put a heroic Spanish jurist, Baltasar Garz’on, on trial.
IN October 1998, British police officers arrested the Chilean general Augusto Pinochet while he was recuperating from back surgery at a London hospital. They were acting on an international warrant issued by the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón seeking General Pinochet’s extradition to stand trial in Spain on charges of torture and murder. After a 17-month legal battle, General Pinochet was released on medical grounds, but Judge Garzón’s warrant paved the way for stripping the former dictator of immunity and prosecuting him in Chile.
Renowned Spanish Judge Goes on Trial, Accused of Abusing Power (January 25, 2012)
Times Topic: Baltasar Garzon
Since the Pinochet arrest, Judge Garzón has indicted human-rights violators around the world. His actions helped make it possible to prosecute expatriate Rwandans for their role in the 1994 genocide and Chad’s former dictator, Hissène Habré, who was indicted for crimes against humanity by a Senegalese judge.
Yet Judge Garzón is now himself under legal attack for confronting Spain’s own dark history. He is on trial this week before the Spanish Supreme Court for daring to investigate crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and the nearly four-decade dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. The case against him is fueled by domestic political vendettas rather than substantive legal arguments and it could dramatically set back international efforts to hold human-rights violators accountable for their crimes.
In October 2008, in response to a petition from victims and relatives of those killed or tortured by Franco’s forces, Judge Garzón ordered the exhumation of 19 mass graves and charged Franco and his accomplices posthumously with the murder and disappearance of more than 114,000 people.
Shortly after Judge Garzón issued his edict, Spain’s chief prosecutor, Javier Zaragoza, challenged it, partly by claiming that it violated Spain’s sweeping 1977 amnesty law. This law, which the United Nations Human Rights Committee has urged Spain to repeal, was passed after Franco’s death in 1975 with the military’s support and forbade the prosecution of any crime “of a political nature” committed during the Franco years.
An appellate court ruled against Judge Garzón in late 2008 and the case appeared to be resolved. But several months after the ruling, two tiny far-right groups sued Judge Garzón for “prevarication” — knowingly overstepping his authority — in violating the amnesty law.
As international criticism grew, and supporters staged large protests backing Judge Garzón, the Supreme Court accepted two other spurious suits brought against him, despite the state prosecutor’s opposition to pursuing them.
Although Judge Garzón’s actions have always been controversial, they have been instrumental in the global fight against impunity. His pursuit of General Pinochet relied on universal jurisdiction, a legal principle asserting that heinous crimes like torture and genocide may be prosecuted in any country, regardless of who the victims or perpetrators were. Indeed, the current case against Judge Garzón shows just how necessary universal jurisdiction is when countries are unable to confront their own pasts.
Criminally charging judges for prevarication is extremely rare in Spain, and a conviction would disbar Judge Garzón for 20 years — effectively ending his career. The Supreme Court’s zeal to try him has little legal basis; rather, it reflects Spanish elites’ widespread unease with applying international legal principles to Spain’s conflicted history and a deep-seated animosity toward Judge Garzón that is as much personal as political.
While the Supreme Court has many justices appointed by the rightist Partido Popular (founded by one of Franco’s former ministers), Judge Garzón also has made powerful enemies on the left, because in the late 1980s he investigated government-backed death squads created to battle the Basque separatist group ETA. His findings helped bring down a Socialist government in 1996.
Judge Garzón’s prosecution has already had a chilling effect on worldwide efforts to hold human-rights violators accountable, and a conviction would be interpreted as an even stronger warning sign. According to Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch, the Haitian judge Carvès Jean is following Judge Garzón’s legal travails intently as he deliberates whether to indict Jean-Claude Duvalier for crimes against humanity or to adhere to Haiti’s statute of limitations, which would place those crimes off limits.
More disturbingly, due to Judge Garzón’s legal woes, the case brought by Franco’s victims and their families is now languishing. (The only exception is in Argentina, where a prominent human-rights lawyer, using universal jurisdiction, recently filed suit charging Franco with crimes against humanity.)
In his 2005 memoir, Judge Garzón wrote, “A system built on the corpses of those who are still awaiting justice so they can rest in peace is an illegitimate system and one that is condemned to eventually suffer the same fate.”
It would send a tragic and telling message to those victims — and others like them around the world — if the one person convicted for Franco’s crimes is the judge who dared to investigate them.