The ICJ condemns the conviction pronounced today by the Supreme Court of Spain against Judge Baltasar Garzón, who will be banned from the judicial office for a period of 11 years.The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemns the conviction pronounced today by the Supreme Court of Spain against Judge Baltasar Garzón, who will be banned from the judicial office for a period of 11 years.
Judge Garzón has been found guilty of malfeasance for ordering recordings of conversations between lawyers and inmates in a corruption investigation, which he conducted in his capacity as Examining Judge of the High Court in Madrid.
“The conviction of Judge Garzón in this case is the deplorable conclusion of a criminal proceeding that should have never been initiated in the first place,” said Pedro Nikken, President of the ICJ. “Garzón has been removed from the bench for interpreting the law and rendering a decision but whether or not one agrees with the interpretation and decision, this is precisely what being a judge is about. Applying a criminal sanction against a judge who is doing his job is a clear denial of judicial independence.”
“The fact that the prosecutor had asked for the dismissal of the case and that several judges shared Garzón’s interpretation of the law shows by itself that the decision originally taken by Garzón could not be considered arbitrary.”
Judge Garzón is awaiting sentencing for the other criminal proceeding initiated against him for investigating the crimes committed by representatives of the Franco regime.
Yesterday, the Office of the Prosecutors officially asked for the dismissal of a third case against him for allegedly receiving illegal funds in the course of an assignment as lecturer at the New York University in 2005 and 2006.
“The context of this conviction is very worrying. Three proceedings have been opened against a judge who lifted the veil of amnesty protecting alleged crimes against humanity that have yet to be investigated. One might wonder to what extent this sentence is just a “way to silence Garzón,” added Nikken.
For further information, please contact:
Ilaria Vena, Associate Legal Advisor, ICJ, Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, t +41 22 979 38 27; e-mail: ilaria.vena(at)icj.org