Posted by: puebloman | March 16, 2010

A few Good Men: Baltasar Garzón Spanish investigating judge

Baltasar Garzón was born in 1955 in Villa de Torres (Jaén), in Andalucia, Spain. He became a provincial judge at 23, and a High Court Judge (National Court) at the age of 32.Garzón is now one of six investigating judges for Spain’s National Court. He investigates cases assigned to him by the court, gathering evidence and evaluating whether a case should be brought to trial. He does not try cases himself.Garzón, is a member of the Audiencia Nacional,  the highest criminal court of Spain.

In office he has instigated the following cases:

  1. In 1999 he attempted to extradite Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from Britain in order to try him in Spain for genocide, terrorism and torture.
  2. Investigation of the murderous actions of the Basque separatist organization ETA
  3. Investigation of the anti-ETA death squads established by the Felipe González Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government in the 1980s.
  4. Ordering the arrest of Osama Bin Laden.
  5. Attempting to charge members of the United States government, including George Bush, with crimes against humanityfor its actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay
  6. Attempting to charge members of the Israeli government with crimes against humanity for war crimes committed in Gaza.
  7. Active in exposing Argentinian junta members to prosecution on genocide charges for the murder of Spanish citizens.
  8. Summoning Chinese government ministers to testify about the crackdown on protests in Tibet.
  9. Presently investigating corruption inside the opposition Popular Party (PP).
  10. Presently investingating and indicting the perpetrators of crimes committed under The Franco dictatorship.

In September 2008, Garzón started to investigate Franco-era killings. He accepted petitions from families, grouped together in Historical Memory societies, who wanted to find the remains of their loved ones and clarify the circumstances of their deaths. As a result of his investigations Garzón accused Franco and 44 former generals and ministers, plus 10 members of the Falange, of crimes against humanity. He demanded the opening of dozens of mass graves where over 100,000 of their victims were summarily shot and buried. Garzón also raised the case of the forced separation, mainly by the Falange’s Foreign Service, of an estimated 30,000 children from their parents, usually political opponents of the regime. He pointed out that the Spanish courts had never carried out a criminal investigation into any of these crimes and not a single perpetrator had been brought to justice.

Garzón was forced to drop these charges after lawyers appointed by the PSOE challenged his authority to pursue the investigation. They argued that Garzón had breached a 1977 law granting amnesty for atrocities passed as part of the so-called “peaceful transition to democracy” following Franco’s death in 1975.

The PSOE’s action demonstrates the Spanish government’s capitulation to pressure from the Popular Party opposition, the Catholic Church and the media. Encouraged by its actions, two proto fascist organisations, Manos Limpias (Clean Hands) and Libertad e Identidad (Freedom and Identity), have launched a petition for Garzón’s prosecution on charges of “corruption in the performance of his functions”

This charge was accepted by the courts. If indicted, Garzón would be immediately suspended pending trial.

The action against Garzón is a clear sign that the Spanish ruling elite is determined to intimidate anyone who attempts to question the “pact of silence” about Francoist crimes agreed by the right wing, the PSOE and Communist Party (PCE) during the transition. Many of today’s ruling elite and top officials, including those in the court that indicted Garzón, are direct heirs of the Franco regime.


  1. It is a great shame that in this day and age, that the francists still manage to pop up and try to destroy anything good. Garzon is an absolute hero.


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