пятница, 18 марта 2011 г.

The fate of Pinochet hunter - Spanish investigator Garzon, Photo: EFE

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Garzon has received worldwide recognition to his prosecution of elderly Pinochet and several leaders of the “Russian mafia", till recent time he headed the investigation department of the Fifth National Court Chamber in Spain. He has been dismissed from the post by so-called General Council of Legal Authority, the authority supervising activities of judges and investigators. Actually, the decision of the Council was automatic, since, by law, the investigator who is on trial, has no right to remain in his post. According to Ignacio Espinoza, representative of professional association of judges- democrats, now an investigator may be reinstated only if the Supreme Court acquites him for the three cased against him.

The Council's decision has taken despite the protests of some politicians and intellectuals of left orientation. They argue that the dismission is the result of political intrigues, and settling of accounts with "progressive" Garzon by certain "reactionary" Spanish lawyers. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, which includes lawyers of different political views, has decided to judge Garzon unanimously, as the investigator is suspected of quite specific violations of law. While the General Council of the legal authority, respectively, had no motive to distrust the decision of the principal judicial body of the country.

What is the fault of the investigator? According to observers, the most serious one is the charge for corruption. Several years ago, Garzon asked permission from his superiors and left to the United States. Ostensibly, he was invited by New York University to give lectures. However, it turned out that the trip, including accomodation and a fee of 302,000 dollars was not paid by the American side, but by the largest Spanish bank - Santander. And, as it turned out also, it was doing that not because of a disinterested desire to acquaint Americans with the experience of the Spanish investigator. Upon returning from the trip, Garson closed the criminal case initiated against the Bank in connection with gross violations of financial laws.

The second case instituted against Garzon is for violation of legal practice that gave rise to proceedings for abuse of power. He had ordered to monitor and record conversations of suspectsl with their lawyers in prison, which has been estimated by lawyers as a gross violation of citizens' rights to protection.

The third case instituted against Garzon by the Supreme Court is the one most politicized. The investigator picked arbitrarily to investigate crimes during the civil war in Spain in the end of 30's, in particular, the crimes committed by military rebeling against the Stalinist government of so-called People's Front. Garzon opened the cases against the head of rebels, General Francisco Franco and his closest associates – they died long time ago. Thus, he not only exceeded his authority - the responsibility of the judicial chambers offices does not include judging figures of the distant past - but also violated the law on amnesty of the 70's. This law consign to oblivion all the misdeeds of the Civil War, given that supporters of People's Front committed no less atrocities than their opponents - the military. Investigator's actions provoked outrage in society, especially among the people of conservative views. They have been appealed by the NGO of employees in the Supreme Court; it is entitled "Clean Hands", fighting against corruption in the government bureaucracy.

In Spain, many believe that Garson took up the investigations of crimes of Franco and his generals just for the sake of the current authorities of the country, who consider themselves the heirs of the People's Front. It was in the camp of the Spanish left-wing voices who demanded to review the amnesty law, adopted with a view to national reconciliation, and "to condemn", even if it's hindsight, the rebels. Raising the issue in period when the country is experiencing a severe economic crisis, many independent observers assessed as an attempt to divert public attention from more pressing problems.

It is believed that filing the cases against the deceased Spanish and Latin American military dictators, Garson was guided by his left-wing beliefs, feeling a kind of historical justice. However, political analysts that follow the career of the investigator, believe that usually he is guided by pure self-interest.

Lawyer Antonio Panad recalled that at the beginning of this decade, "left" Garson acted as right-wing. It was he who organized the persecution and, eventually outlawed Basque party Batasuna. Up to 15% of Basque voters voted for the party . It had deputies in the central and regional parliaments, as well as representatives in many municipal councils of the Basque region. Prior to that, in 1998, he closed the left Basque newspaper “Egin” and the radio station “Egin-Irratia”. That was done in order to please the Spain conservative forces which had been in power at the time. But even they realized that Garzon overdid it - closing the opposition parties and the mass media - that is the lot of lawyers serving totalitarianism. So his decision with respect to the Basque newspaper was canceled.

His world renown came to Garson in 1998, when he advanced against the former Chilean ruler Pinochet an indictment for human rights violations and demanded his extradition to Spain for the investigation and trial. Pinochet was not given. Then he tried to prosecute for the same reasons the former members of the Argentine military junta. However, Garson made no success again. Having exhausted the Latin American theme, he began to work on the so-called "Russian mafia" in Spain. As subsequent events showed, those investigations had not been sufficiently deep, without aknowledge of the case. police operations he had been leading, were widely advertised throughout the world, and ended with nothing each time . So-called "dangerous leaders of the Russian mafia" went home "for lack of evidence” after some time. As for the current troubles of Garzon, some observers believe that his unpredictable, sometimes scandalous activity creates distrust of the ruling Socialist Party, which has not forgotten the story of the GAL. That is why it let the matter take its course - and does not interfere in the investigation.


Source: "Radio Liberty" 20/05/2010

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