Judge to Face Trial for Pursuing Spanish War Crimes

Judge to Face Trial for Pursuing Spanish War Crimes

By SONJA DECHIAN | Published: DECEMBER 1, 2011

A Spanish judge has received notice he will go on trial on Jan 24 for allegedly overstepping his jurisdiction by investigating the execution and disappearance of civilians in the Spanish Civil War.

Judge Baltasar Garzon has been hailed as a hero by human rights lawyers for his use of the legal doctrine of universal jurisdiction – the idea that some crimes are so serious they can be prosecuted in countries outside the one they were committed in.

He indicted Augusto Pinochet in 1998 on this basis, resulting in the Chilean dictator’s arrest in London, although Britain would not extradite Pinochet and he died without facing trial. Garzon also indicted Bin Laden in 2003.

Garzon was suspended last year for probing war crimes committed by supporters of General Francisco Franco during and after the Spanish Civil War. The crimes were covered by an amnesty approved in 1977.

In related news, a commission set up by the Spanish government has recommended that the remains of General Franco should be exhumed from the Valley of the Fallen – a controversial civil war memorial that marks mass graves of 34,000 people killed in Spain’s 1936-39 civil war.

The report says Franco’s remains should be removed as he did not die during the war. It recommended, ‘reorienting the monument of the Valley of the Fallen to remove any ideological or political connotation and focus it solely on the moral aspect of memory.’

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