Spain high court to hear challenge against terrorism judge Garzon

Spain high court to hear challenge against terrorism judge Garzon

[JURIST] The Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] announced Wednesday that it will accept a challenge [order, PDF, in Spanish] accusing Audiencia Nacional Judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of knowingly giving an unjust verdict or resolution. The decision comes as the result of a complaint filed by Manos Limpias [group website, in Spanish], a union of public servants in Spain, which alleged that Garzon acted without jurisdiction in violation of Penal Code Article 446 [text, in Spanish] when he launched investigations [JURIST report] into Civil War-era crimes committed by the regime of General Francisco Franco [BBC backgrounder]. In October 2008, Garzon ordered the exhumation of 19 mass graves in Spain, and ordered government agencies, the Episcopal Conference [church website, in Spanish], the University of Granada [academic website, in Spanish], and the mayors of four cities to produce the names of people buried in mass graves in order to assemble a definitive national registry [JURIST report]. Spanish prosecutors had objected to the probe on the grounds that it ran counter to the country's 1977 amnesty law, and its 2007 condemnation of the Franco dictatorship [JURIST reports].

Garzon is widely known for his high-profile investigations of terrorism and human rights abuses including cases against Osama bin Laden and former Latin American dictator Augusto Pinochet and investigations into detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives]. In 2005, he called for the creation of a "truth commission" [JURIST report] to uncover Franco-era abuses. Estimates of the number of people killed during the 1936-39 Civil War and the subsequent Franco dictatorship range from 90,000 to 180,000