Controversy rages over Franco crime probe
Judge Baltasar Garzón justifies his decision to investigate Franco’s crimes with case studies of Latin American countries while opponents of Franco crime prepare to appeal.20 October 2008
MADRID -- The legal sparring over a judge's decision to investigate crimes committed during the Civil War and Franco's regime intensified over the weekend, with opponents preparing an appeal that will try to freeze the probe.
High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón last week announced that he had the jurisdiction to investigate the disappearance of 114,000 Republican supporters during the 1936-1939 conflict and ensuing dictatorship. His decision came after weeks of researching claims brought forward by victims' associations who demanded a probe into the fate of their loved ones, most of whom disappeared without a trace.
Garzón, who is known for his international inquiries into human rights abuses, and who once indicted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, is arguing that the crimes, which include torture and summary executions, constitute crimes against humanity and cannot go unpunished.
But the High Court's chief prosecutor, Javier Zaragoza, claims that legally, there was no such thing as "crimes against humanity" at the time because these were only included in Spain's Penal Code in 2004, and modern laws cannot be retroactively applied to the case. He also proposes that a 1977 amnesty law protects against all future lawsuits.
Garzón, however, is supporting his cause with case studies of Latin American countries such as Argentina, whose legislators decided to ignore amnesty laws passed by the military to protect themselves.
[El Pais / Jose Yoldi / Expatica]