Prominent Rights Judge Is Convicted in Spain
By RAPHAEL MINDER and MARLISE SIMONS
His lawyer told EFE, the Spanish news agency, that Mr. Garzón, 56, felt an understandable “desolation and pain” in being barred from the judiciary, to which he had dedicated his life.
The ruling came in one of three cases against Mr. Garzón, the country’s most prominent but also contentious judicial personalities, who has made aggressive use of the doctrine of universal jurisdiction for grave human rights crimes. He gained abrupt fame in 1998 when
Mr. Garzón’s spirit of activism has also antagonized some Spanish authorities, and critics who consider him self-aggrandizing. He dug deeply into corruption cases and ordered an inquiry into atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco, despite a 1977 general amnesty for crimes perpetrated during the war. That 2008 investigation, closed after just a month, prompted the second case against Mr. Garzón, as fringe far-right groups argued that he had overstepped his authority. Conviction could result in a 20-year suspension.
The Spanish prosecutor’s office has actively opposed both trials, saying there were no grounds for a criminal case. During the trial, it called for the charges to be dismissed because they had no basis in law.
Philippe Sands, who teaches international law at
“This is very troubling; targeting an independent judge or prosecutor through the criminal justice system anywhere raises very serious concerns,” he said. “To sanction a possible breach of ethics or misconduct is up to the professional organizations. To bring down the criminal justice system on an investigative judge for an alleged fault is to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It’s almost unique in
His defenders, including international lawyers, judges, academics and human rights groups, have called the cases — including an investigation into whether he had an improper financial relationship with Santander Bank — politically motivated. On Thursday, many denounced the ruling.
Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch who has been monitoring the trials, said the “accumulation of the cases against Judge Garzón” suggested “reprisal for his past actions against vested interests.”
“Unfortunately,” he added, “it certainly looks like his enemies now got what they wanted.”
Following Thursday’s ruling, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón,
The 7-0 ruling came in a 2008 corruption case in which Mr. Garzón ordered wiretaps to monitor conversations between lawyers and their clients. The judge argued that such taps were needed to ensure that the main defendants would not be able to transfer money garnered from their corrupt business dealings while held in jail under investigation. In a case brought by the defendants who had been monitored, the Supreme Court ruled that such an order not only contravened defense rights but also “damaged the right to confidentiality.”
The ruling prohibited him from “obtaining during the duration of the sentence any employment or duty with judicial or governing functions within the judiciary.”
There is no avenue to appeal, but Mr. Garzón could challenge the validity of the judicial process before
He has a pending case in
Mr. Garzón’s lawyer in
Lawyers sympathetic to Mr. Garzón said that even if his career in
However, posts on any international court or tribunal usually require political backing from the home government.
Raphael Minder reported from Madrid, and Marlise Simons from
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs