Thursday, May 28, 2009

CRUSADER CRUSADED: Spain high court will hear a challenge against terrorism superstar judge Garzon. This is big stuff, since he's accused of the worst thing a judge can do: to knowingly give an unjust verdict or resolution. It's regarding the Franco-era crimes: Garzón wanted to indict the regime leaders, forgetting the amnesty law of 1977, that the accusation went beyond the statute of limitations, and also the small detail that Franco and his cronies were, well, dead (in Spanish criminal law, one of the reasons of ending the responsibility is the death of the accused). Garzon even sent a judicial order to the Civil Registry asking for the confirmation that Franco et al were dead; he wanted to see their death certificates (as if there was any doubt). Regardless of what you think of the Franco regime, Garzon's initiative was so clearly without merit that the Public Prosecutor was against it and asked him to stop.

It's worth noting that the amnesty law of 1977 didn't just apply to one side, but to both: besides any possible member of the Franco regime, it also forgave crimes commited by the Republican side before and during the Civil War, in the rearguard, or by ETA terrorists (the two links are to texts by notable historian Stanley Payne; you can also read George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia or Looking Back on the Spanish War, if you prefer. Full text at the links). For many, the amnesty law was a key element in the reconciliation process that gave way to the democratic system we now enjoy; it allowed people like Communist leader Santiago Carrillo to come to Spain, run for election, and become one of the key figures in the Transition. In any case, anything should be open to revision if a sufficient number of people wishes for that. But it must be done with a wide, bipartisan agreement, not because a lone crusading judge wants to be on the spotlight and perhaps get a Nobel.