Argentina citizens seeking judicial investigation of Spanish civil war crimes

[JURIST] The Argentine relatives of Spanish citizens killed during the Spanish Civil War [LOC backgrounder] asked an Argentine federal court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday to open a judicial investigation into human rights violations committed during the early years of the Francisco Franco [BBC backgrounder] regime. The complainants contend that their case, alleging [AFP report] the regime's responsibility for the execution of their relatives, can be heard in Argentina's courts through universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. They also hope to add to their complaint any other cases involving disappearances or killings committed during Franco's regime. Local human rights groups, including the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the Argentine League for Human Rights and the Peace and Justice Service [advocacy websites, in Spanish] have joined the complainants [AP report] in support of the investigation. If the Argentine federal court decides to take the case, it will be the first time an Argentine court invokes universal jurisdiction for crimes committed in another country.

The request for a judicial probe in Argentina is a reaction to the Spanish Supreme Court's decision to charge [JURIST report] National Court judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] with abuse of power for his investigation of war crimes during the Franco regime. The indictment has sparked international outrage [NYT op-ed] and massive protests [La Jornada report, in Spanish] in Spain. Last week, Garzon appealed the indictment [JURIST report]. Garzon alleged that the indictment is politically motivated, compromises judicial independence, and seeks to impose a specific interpretation of a 1977 law granting amnesty for political crimes committed under Franco.



 

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