The Observer reported last weekend that the Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón it to be put on trial for abusing his power over the investigations he opened in 2008 into Francoist crimes against humanity that terrorised Spain during and after the civil war.
Garzón had made a name of himself by ordering the arrest of Chilean director Pinochet in London in 1998 and investigations into Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi as well as offering judicial advice on how to capture Osama Bin Laden. He is widely understood as the driving force behind a new understanding of human rights law. It is not surprising, thus, that some call for him to receive a Nobel Peace Prize and that others want him behind bars.
Allegations against Garzón cause great outrage amongst Spaniards who were affected by Franco's crimes as much as among advocates of international law and human rigths law. The Observer reports:
"Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the supreme court to throw out the case. "Garzón sought justice for victims of human rights abuses abroad and now he's being punished for trying to do the same at home. The decision leaves Spain and Europe open to the charge of double standards," said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "Instead of a criminal complaint against Judge Baltasar Garzón for investigating crimes under international law committed in the past, Spain should, irrespective of the date of their commission, bring perpetrators to justice," said Amnesty's senior director Widney Brown." (Source: G. Tremlett, "Charismatic judge who pursued Spain's fascist assassins finds himself on trial" on 25th April 2010)
Why does it matter to Sandblast?
Garzón started investigations into genocide allegations against Morocco with regard to their occupation of the Western Sahara territory:
"As Morocco’s government and military have been exploiting the Saharan resources, like fishery, phosphor and oil, and abusing basic human rights of the Saharawis to being “free and equal in dignity and rights” (Article 1), to a Heimat (Article 12) or “one’s native land” (Euripides 431 B.C.), as well as systematically persecuting those of Sahrawi origin and others of pro-Saharawi ideology with torture (Article 5) and “arbitrary arrests” (Article 9), investigations have been opened by the Spanish prosecutor and judge Baltasar Garzón Real into genocide allegations against the Moroccan government under King Mohammed VI (Marraco 2007, Anon 2007a, 2007b)." (Source: C. Lemoine)
The Argentinian court will rule next month on whether it accepts the case.
Without having too much insights into what form of abuse Garzón is accused of, it is a great injustice that he is punished for speaking up for the victims of viscious crimes and to take up the fight for their essential human rights with the world's leading criminals against humanity.