Friday, February 10, 2012

Spanish Justice

Today’s post with be short and it will be political.  I always say that I’m not political.  When it comes to politics and to economics (and personal finances), I have a hard time focusing and seem incapable of retaining details.  If the report or argument goes on for too long, my eyes begin to cross.  It is not likely that in any argument, I could succeed in changing anyone else's mind.  And yet I am political in that I pay attention to at least some political issues.  As Lansky described in the book I just read, it must be in my Jewish background.  When company came, at our dining table we did not talk about the weather, or sports, or celebrities.  We talked politics. 

However, the persecution of Judge Baltasar Garzon by the Spanish right wing is a worthy cause for me to bring up.  I’ve been watching this story unfold slowly and every time a new phase emerges, I am left sitting with my mouth open.  Can this be happening in a modern democracy, one that is part of the European Union?

Judge Garzon is being tried in three different proceedings.  One is for accepting money for talks he gave in New York.  Another is for the wiretapping of phone conversations of government officials and businessmen accused of fraud while they were in prison awaiting trial.  These conversations were with their lawyers and Garzon believed they were arranging for the secreting away of the ill-gained money.  And the third is for looking into the disappearance of thousands of victims of the Spanish Civil War and subsequent Franco regime.  After Franco died, Spain passed an amnesty law making it illegal to punish any crime committed by either side in the Civil War or by the subsequent regime.  Spain is home to thousands of unmarked mass graves.  Garzon was acting on the request of many people who lost loved ones and do not know, to this day, what happened or where their bodies are buried.  He says that crimes against humanity are not limited by amnesty laws of any single country.

Many people in Spain support Judge Garzon.  They think that the first two charges are a ploy to weaken his reputation so that the Court will be able to rule against him on the third and most important charge.  The first verdict came in yesterday.  Guilty of the wiretapping.  In contrast, the first two of the government officials who were accused of accepting illegal gifts were acquitted recently and most of them have not yet been tried.

Yesterday's condemnation probably puts an end of Garzon's career as a judge in Spain.  He is currently doing legal work for the World Court.  Apparently some people appreciate his work.  And some say that in the future, he may enter into Spanish politics.  If I were him, I would say Adios to Spain and continue working on an international level where his brave and necessary work is appreciated.

If you would like to read more about Judge Garzon and these trials, here are a few links written by people who can be more informative than me.

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