Spain: “We Have Memory, We Want Justice”

Spain's National Audience Magistrate, Baltasar Garzón, has been charged and barred for 11 years [es] from the legal profession for allegedly illegally ordering the placement of wiretaps in jailhouses to record conversations between inmates and their lawyers in the Gürtel case. This was a case about the embezzlement of public funds which ended with two dozen members of the Popular Party (right-wing party currently heading the government) dismissed.

Judge Garzón was also accused of prevarication since he pledged his competency to investigate the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship; all which has caused the international media, politicians [es] and hundreds of citizens [es] to express outrage and shock with the sentence. The crimes committed during the Civil War and under Franco's dictatorship remain unpunished.

Judge Garzón himself declared his disapproval of the conviction in a press note: “I emphatically reject the sentence that has been notified to me today” [es], published minutes after he heard the ruling against him:

Former Congressmen, Federico Mayor Zaragoza[1] was interviewed about the case. Since he is a relevant public figure who is actively supporting the social movement #15M, we reproduce his interview:

Citizens, press and even the international press cannot believe the eleven years disqualification sentence given to Judge Garzón, a National Audience Magistrate. In a few words, what do you think about the conviction?

Lamentable. Como ya había manifestado en varias ocasiones, y hoy lo hago de nuevo, nunca he luchado en favor de un Estado de Derecho sino de un Estado de Justicia. Y el Derecho que permite que una entidad impresentable y antidemocrática acuse al Juez que logró descubrir sus turbios manejos, debe modificarse radicalmente y de forma apremiante.

Regrettable. As I have already said in several occasions, and I repeat, I have never fought for a State of Law but for a State of Justice. And it is the Law which allows that an unworthy and anti-democratic entity accuse the Judge who managed to uncover its unlawful business, the one that should be changed.

Do you think it is logical that 40 years after Franco's regime ended no impartial investigation on the crimes committed during this time has been opened, like in other countries such as Germany, Argentina, Chile, etc?

Es totalmente ilógico. La memoria histórica es imprescindible para la auténtica democracia y dignidad de todos los ciudadanos sin exclusión. Es una vergüenza que se siga impidiendo conocer en profundidad lo que aconteció. Ayer los manifestantes que apoyaban a Garzón, coreaban “Tenemos memoria, queremos justicia”. Como no quieren que haya justicia, impiden que tengamos memoria.

It is totally unreasonable. A historic memory is essential for an authentic democracy and for the dignity of all citizens without exclusion. It is embarrassing that the truth of what happened is being covered. Yesterday, protesters who supported Garzón chanted “we have memory, we want justice”. Since they don't want justice, they are preventing us from having memory.

Judge Garzón was cheered by half the world when he opened the case against Augusto Pinochet (the deceased former Chilean dictator) and the crimes of the Chilean regime. In this country, do we applaud foreign actions while failing to see or avoiding to see our internal injustice?

El Juez Garzón tiene ya un prestigio a escala mundial absolutamente insólito. He contemplado al mundo desde una atalaya que me permite hoy asegurar que el prestigio del Juez Baltasar Garzón en el mundo entero no se empañará por esta sórdida sentencia hispánica.

Judge Garzón has already an absolutely extraordinary high regard around the world. I've seen the world from a watchtower that allows me to guarantee that Judge Garzón's worldwide prestige won't be tarnished by this sordid Spanish conviction.

You can read the original interview here.


Federico Mayor Zaragoza was undersecretary of Education and Science in the Spanish Government (1974–1975), UCD deputy for Granada region in the Spanish Parliament (1977–1978), Adviser to the President of the Government (1977–1978), Minister of Education and Science (1981–1982) and CDS deputy in the European Parliament (1987). Lately, he served as Director-General of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999 in two consecutive legislatures. He is currently the Chairman of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace and member of the Honorary Board of the International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.

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