UN puts Spain on notice over Garzón disbarment

Former judge Baltasar Garzón campaigned against human rights abuse until disbarred in 2012. Photo: EFE via InfoLibre
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• Garzón disbarred in 2012 over allegations related to handling of Gürtel case
• Ex-judge’s attorneys claim real reason was probe into Franco-era atrocities

The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has given the Spanish government a deadline of six months to respond to a claim filed with its office by former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón that his disbarrment from serving as a judge in 2012 was arbitrary and discriminatory and a violation of Spain’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and international human rights law.

In 2012, Garzón was disbarred for 11 years by Spain’s Supreme Court for allegedly providing false testimony in relation to wire-tapping of suspects in the Gürtel case, a political corruption scandal that is currently in trial phase in Spain and directly implicates officials of the conservative Partido Popular (PP), in power at the time under the leadership of current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

In the complaint filed with the UN agency, Garzon’s attorneys claim he was disbarred and his lengthy judicial career effectively ended on a technicality in the Gürtel case, masking what the complaint says was the real reason for his dismissal — his concurrent investigation into human rights abuses by forces loyal to Gen. Francisco Franco during Spain’s bloody 1936-39 Civil War and the Franco dictatorship that followed, for which he was also on trial at the same time he was being tried over the Gürtel charges.

Garzon’s human rights investigation was not allowed under the terms of Spain’s controversial 1987 Amnesty Law, which stands in violation of international human rights law and forbids the judicial investigation or prosecution of anyone involved in the thousands of disappearances and summary executions of Franco opponents during those years. At the time, the OHCHR expressed serious concern that Garzón had been put on trial for probing the alleged atrocities under Franco, noting that Spain is obliged under international law to investigate past serious human rights violations.

► Read More in Spanish at InfoLibre and La Información …

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