Spain’s Judge Garz贸n faces suspension 鈥攁fter opening Bush-era war crimes probe

Authorities in Spain have launched proceedings to suspend the notorious investigating magistrate Baltasar Garz贸n. The ostensible reason for the move is his investigation into the fate of 114,000 people who disappeared during the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. The public prosecutor’s office says Garz贸n had no authority to conduct the investigation because of a 1977 amnesty law. But Garz贸n says the disappearances must be considered crimes against humanity, and therefore not covered by any amnesty.

Baltasar Garz贸n gained an international reputation through his efforts to have former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet extradited to Spain. If Spain’s best known judge is found guilty of exceeding his authority, he could be removed from office for 20 years. (Radio Netherlands, Feb. 10)

The move comes just as Garz贸n opened a formal criminal investigation of former White House attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee and other Bush administration officials for their role in authorizing torture at the Guant谩namo Bay detention center. Garz贸n’s inquiry will be the first formal examination of alleged criminal activity that could lead to a number of US officials being charged with violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture, both of which have been signed by the United States and ratified by the US Senate. (Middle East Online, Feb. 15; Frank Morales press release, Feb. 14 via IMC)

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