Baltasar Garzón: Wikis

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Baltasar Garzón


Juzgado Central de Instrucción, number 5.
Incumbent
Assumed office 
1987

Born 26 October 1955 (1955-10-26) (age 54)
Torres, Jaén, Spain
Alma mater University of Seville
Religion Roman Catholic

Baltasar Garzón Real (born 26 October 1955) is a Spanish judge currently seated on the Criminal Court of Spain. He is examining magistrate of the Juzgado Central de Instrucción No. 5, which investigates the most important criminal cases in Spain that will be later judged by the Audiencia Nacional, or Central Criminal Court.

In 1993, he asked for an extended leave of absence as a judge and went into politics, running for the Congreso de los Diputados (the lower house of parliament) on the party list of then ruling party PSOE. He was also declared head of a strengthened National Plan Against Drugs by Prime Minister Felipe González. He resigned this post shortly after being appointed, however, complaining of lack of support from the government. After his return to the Audiencia Nacional, he led a series of investigations that helped convict a PSOE minister as head of the GAL state terrorist groups.

Contents

International cases

Born in Torres de Albánchez, Jaén, Garzón came to international attention on 10 October 1998 when he issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for the alleged deaths and torture of Spanish citizens during his tenure. The Chilean Truth Commission (1990-91) report was the basis for the warrant, marking an unprecedented use of universal jurisdiction to attempt to try a former dictator for an international crime. Eventually it was turned down by British Home Secretary Jack Straw, who refused Garzón's request to have Pinochet extradited to Spain on grounds of Pinochet's health.

He has repeatedly expressed a desire to investigate former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in connection with a plot in the 1970s known as Operation Condor.[1]

In April 2001, he requested that the Council of Europe remove the immunity from prosecution enjoyed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy as a member of the Council's parliamentary assembly. His request was rejected.

Garzón also filed charges of genocide against Argentine military officers on the disappearance of Spanish citizens during Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship. Eventually Adolfo Scilingo and Miguel Angel Cavallo were prosecuted in separate cases. Scilingo was convicted and sentenced to over 1000 years incarceration for his crimes.[2]

At one point, Garzón had a public and very heated argument with Subcomandante Marcos, spokesman of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), over the sovereignty of the Basque Country.[3]

In December 2001, Garzón launched an inquiry into the offshore accounts of Spain's second largest bank BBVA for alleged money laundering offences. In January 2003, he fiercely criticised the United States government over the detention of al-Qaida suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also campaigned strongly against the 2003 Iraq war.

Garzón issued indictments for five Guantanamo detainees, including Spaniard Abderrahman Ahmad and United Kingdom resident Jamil El Banna. Ahmad was extradited to Spain on 14 February 2004. El Banna was repatriated to the United Kingdom, and in 2007, Garzon dropped the charges against him on humanitarian grounds.[4]

In March 2009, Garzón considered whether Spain should allow charges to be filed against former officials from the United States government under George W. Bush for offering justifications for torture.[5]

The six former Bush officials are: Alberto Gonzales, former Attorney General; John Yoo, of the Office of Legal Counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; William Haynes II, former general counsel for the Department of Defense; Jay Bybee, also at Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff.

On 29 April 2009, Garzon opened an investigation into an alleged "systematic programme" of torture at Guantánamo Bay, following accusations by four former prisoners. [6]

According to historian Andy Worthington, writing in the Huffington Post, Spanish newspaper Público reported in September 2009 that Garzón was proceeding to the next phase of his investigation.[7]

Spanish cases

His investigations helped the conviction of a PSOE minister as head of the GAL state terrorist groups.

He also investigated Jesús Gil, former mayor of Marbella and owner of Atlético Madrid, on grounds of corruption.

Garzón has also fought against ETA: he has presided in many trials against alleged ETA members. In July 1998 he presided in a case against Orain SA, the Basque communication company that published the newspaper Egin and owned the radio station Egin Irratia. Garzón ordered the closure of both and sent some of the company officers to prison, due to their alleged links with ETA. These charges were later dropped for lack of evidence, and the journalists were released. Many years later Garzón imprisoned them again under the allegation of being part of ETA in a "broader" sense. Egin was allowed to reopen years later by the Audiencia Nacional, after all charges were found without foundation. In February 2003 Garzón also ordered the closure of Egunkaria once again alleging links with ETA. In October 2002 Garzón suspended the operations of the Batasuna party for three years, alleging direct connections with ETA. In February 2008 he also ordered the ban of two Basque nationalist parties, which had filled the political space of Batasuna: EHAK and EAE-ANV on the same grounds.

On 17 October 2008, Garzón formally declared the acts of repression committed by the Franco regime to be crimes against humanity, and accounted them in more than one hundred thousand killings during and after the Spanish Civil War. He also ordered the exhumation of 19 unmarked mass graves, one of them believed to contain the remains of the poet Federico García Lorca.[8][9]

On 17 November 2008, Garzón said that he was dropping the case against Franco and his allies after state prosecutors questioned his jurisdiction over crimes committed 70 years ago by people who are now dead and whose crimes were covered by an amnesty passed in 1977. In a 152-page statement, he passed responsibility to regional courts for opening 19 mass graves believed to hold the remains of hundreds of victims.[10]

2009 appearance before Spanish Supreme Court

In September 2009 Garzón was called to testify before the Supreme Court to answer allegations that he had knowingly exceeded his legal remit in asking government departments to hand over papers from the Franco period. The complaint, registered by a right wing organisation called "Manos Limpias" (Clean Hands), is denied by Garzón.[11]

Bibliography

  • Cuento de Navidad: es posible un mundo diferente (Christmas tale: A different world is possible) Ediciones de la Tierra (2002)
  • Un mundo sin miedo (A world without fear) Plaza & Janes, S.A. and Debolsillo (February 2005)
  • Prologue of ¿Y si mi hijo se droga? Claves prácticas para prevenir, saber y actuar (And if my son uses drugs? Practical tips to prevent, know, and act) Begoña del Pueyo, Alejandro Perales (Editorial Grijalbo) (June 2005)
  • La lucha contra el terrorismo y sus límites (The fight against terrorism and its limits) Adhara Publicaciones, S.L. (February 2006)

See also

References

External links

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