Spain's Baltasar Garzón Faces Prosecution for Investigation of Franco-Era Crimes

Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón will be tried in connection with his judicial investigation into the enforced disappearances of thousands of individuals and other atrocities committed during Spain’s civil war (1936-1939) and the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco (1939-1975).  Charges against the judge were brought by private actors, two right-wing interest groups, one of which was the State political party (Falange Española) under General Franco’s rule.  They allege that Judge Garzón deliberately overstapped his authority by asserting jurisdiction because an amnesty law enacted in 1977 provides immunity for crimes committed during the Franco era.  See the decision admitting the charges here.  As potential crimes against humanity, such crimes are not subject to any statute of limitations or amnesty, Judge Garzón had argued.  [Impunity Watch, Yahoo, FIDH]

Judge Garzón is best known for his exercise of universal jurisdiction in an effort to investigate and try those suspected of having committed crimes against humanity around the globe, as in the cases of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Argentine officials complicit in the Dirty War.  Read more on universal jurisdiction on this blog, here.  If convicted in the pending charges, the judge could face suspension of 12 to 20 years, effectively causing his retirement.  See in depth coverage of Garzón, the charges against him, and the Franco era investigation by Spanish newspaper El País, here.

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