Government prosecutors request acquittal for Garzón

April 17, 2011

Julio Lázaro reports in El País today:

Supreme Court prosecutors have requested acquittal for Judge Baltasar Garzón in the conclusion they have sent to the Penal Section of the court, which is to judge him for ordering the jailhouse wiretaps of conversations between the ringleaders of the Gurtel racket and their lawyers.  The public prosecuors maintain that Garzón attempted to protect the prisoners right to defense, that the lawyers were aware of the fact that they were being taped, and that the content of the recordings was not used by the judge to direct or to change the investigation.

Pilar Fernández-Valcarce, the prosecutor who signed the writ, recalls that in February of 2009 there were already signs that certain members of the law offices had participated in operations aimed at laundering money, and that there were several meetings scheduled, and operations pending before the arrest order for the ringleaders had been issued.  On February 9, the lawyers Manuel Delgado Solís, Luis de Miguel Pérez, and José Ramón Blanco Balín, were indicted, and three days later Garzón ordered the imprisonment of the leaders of the corrupt racket, Francisco Correa, Pablo Crespo and Antoine Sanchez.

The first analysis of the documentation intercepted from the accused already revealed the existence of an vast network of corporations in territories “not exactly well-known for their cooperation with courts of law,” such as Nevis, Curaçao or Panama.  The telephone wiretaps that had been set up [prior to the arrests, and requested by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s office, and authorized by Garzón] revealed information about how the indicted subjects were preparing operations aimed at reorganizing funds held in foreign countries which were yet to be executed by the date of their arrest.  In two conversations that were incercepted on December 18, 2008, Crespo and Correa spoke about the laundering of 20 million euros in an account in Switzerland.

This evidence “led to the logical conclusion that the indicted subjects, now in prison, would ry to execute those operations via third parties, be they lawyers or not, who might be able to contact them in prison” says the Prosecutor’s office.

The writ points out that these operations were not the completion of crimes already committed, but rather a new money laundering scheme, and that Spain is a signatory to numerous international judicial arrangements, such as the Strasbourg Agreement Against Money Laundering and the UN’s Convention Against Transnational Organized Delinquency or the UN’s Convention Against Corruption.  These agreements impose an “obligation to adopt certain preventive measures to avoid money laundering.”

The Prosecutor reproduces the writs in which Garzón set up the wiretaps of the conversatons between the prisoners and their lawyers.  In those writs, the Prosecutor points out, “special care is taken to protect the right to a defense.”   On March 27, 2009, Garzón issues another writ in which he expressly orders that “any conversations between the indicted and their lawyers referring only to strategies of defense be ommitted from the ransciptions.”

The Prosecutor affirms that the lawyers whose conversations with the prisoners of the Gurtel corruption racket were recorded “were aware of this situation,” and she refers to the text written by the Presiding Judge Alberto Jorge Barreiro, in  which he declares the trial open.  The prosecutor adds that the content of the tapes was not used by Garzón “to steer or change the investigation” and that the wiretaps “have had no effect on the course of the trial, nor have they led to execution of any judicial order” […] and the Prosecutor concludes by requesting full absolution for Garzón.

Read the original piece in Spanish here.