Garzón suspended

May 14, 2010

After an intense, two-hour meeting this morning, Spain’s Consejo Superior del Poder Judicial (CSPJ) has announced that investigative magistrate Baltasar Garzón has been suspended for the duration of the trial against him, which was formally opened two days ago. Meanwhile, his request to be granted a leave of absence in order to take up a post as special advisor to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague will be taken up later this afternoon by a permanent committee of the Consejo. Although the decision to suspend Garzón in principle follows regular procedure, this morning’s meeting was a contentious and emotional one, El País reports, as the more progressive members of the Consejo argued against suspension. Similarly emotional was Garzón’s farewell to the Audiencia Nacional, or national Criminal Court (video here). [Further coverage: BBC, Buenos Aires Herald, AP]

The trial against Garzón that was opened on Wednesday by Justice Luciano Varela of the Spanish Supreme Court concerns one of three pending charges against him. In this particular case, Garzón is accused of  judicial prevarication, or knowingly overstepping his boundaries, a charge punishable with ten- to twenty-year suspension of duties, for with his attempt to try as crimes against humanity the killing and disappearance of thousands of Spaniards during Franco’s dictatorship–crimes that Garzón argued were not covered by the country’s 1977 amnesty laws.