Spain judicial panel allows judge Garzon to consult for ICC

Spain judicial panel allows judge Garzon to consult for ICC

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[JURIST] The judiciary oversight committee of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday approved a request [text, PDF; in Spanish] by judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] allowing him to work with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. Garzon was suspended last week [JURIST report] by the CGPJ for abusing his power by opening an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed under Francisco Franco [BBC backgrounder] during the Spanish Civil War [LOC backgrounder]. The ICC confirmed earlier this month [press release] that they had asked Garzon to work for them as a consultant for a period of seven months in order to improve their investigative methods. The CGPJ granted Garzon's request for leave indicating there was no legal reason preventing him from working as a consultant with the ICC. Garzon still faces trial in Spain where he has been formally charged [JURIST report] with abusing his power although no trial date [AFP report] has been set. If convicted, Garzon could face a suspension of up to 20 years.

Thousands gathered [JURIST report] in cities across Spain last month in support of Garzon, chanting slogans and displaying flags of the pre-war Republican government ousted by Franco. The Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] charged [order, PDF; in Spanish] Garzon with abuse of power based on his 2008 ordered exhumation [JURIST report] of 19 mass graves in Spain. The purpose of the order was to assemble a definitive national registry of Civil War victims, despite a 1977 law granting amnesty for political crimes committed under Franco. Garzon appealed [JURIST report] the charges, alleging that the indictment issued by Spanish Supreme Court judge Luciano Varela was politically motivated [AFP report], compromised judicial independence, and sought to impose a specific interpretation of the 1977 law. Garzon is widely known for using universal jurisdiction extensively in the past to bring several high-profile rights cases, including those against Osama bin Laden and former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archives].