The right-wing pressure group Manos Limpias (‘Clean Hands’), which brought a complaint against controversial Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón for ordering an investigation into crimes committed during the Franco dictatorship, argues the judge exceeded his power and that his trial next week (24 January) in Madrid is justified.
In October 2008, High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón declared himself competent to investigate crimes committed during the rule of General Francisco Franco (1939-1975). Historians estimate there were up to 150,000 killings and thousands of disappearances committed by the regime. Garzón deemed them crimes against humanity that could not be immune from justice.
In May 2009, Supreme Court Judge Luciano Varela accepted a complaint presented by Manos Limpias against Garzón for “misconduct.” He was suspended from his duties in the Spanish justice system. In 2010, he was appointed counsellor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Radio Netherlands spoke with Miguel Bernard, Secretary General of Manos Limpias, about the judge and the case.
Judging the dead
“Garzón made an unjust decision. He knew it was wrong to investigate the Franco era and its ministers. That process is illegal, because in Spain there is an amnesty law for crimes committed in the past.
“With the transition in Spain and the [creation of] the constitution, there is a consensus in society that 1978 is the beginning of a new democratic system, a constitutional parliamentary monarchy. Therefore the behaviour of Garzón is against the constitution, against the consensus about the transition and against the amnesty law. Above all, he tries to judge a person who died, something impossible under criminal law.”
Judge Garzón is “not an impartial, universal judge, but a sectarian...judge who only judges crimes or genocides committed by right wing dictatorships. He cannot be considered an impartial judge.”
“Garzón has been very clever in spreading his image through different lobbies, which have presented him as a super judge who is above all genocides.... There is a positive media attitude towards Garzón because he has always handled very well the national and international media. But many members of the centre and the right-wing of Spanish society, who until now have been silent, are convinced that this judge is a cancer within the Spanish justice system and will be so until he is suspended permanently.
“Garzón is very close to the Socialist and Communist parties in Spain, and the leftist media support him because they consider him a leader and a guide. But this is just an appearance. In this trial, Garzón wants to present himself as a victim, [saying] that he is on trial because he fights fascism and the Franco regime. But this is not true.”
“Considering the accusation and all the information presented at the preliminary investigation, Garzón will be convicted to a jail sentence between 12 and 20 years, and this means a definite end to his judicial career in Spain.”