Garzón reacts angrily to Supreme Court opposition to pardon

Ruling follows prosecutor’s report shooting down petition by judges’ association

María Fabra

Suspended High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón reacted angrily on Tuesday to news that the Spanish Supreme Court had issued a report stating its opposition to granting him a pardon.

“Enough is enough,” he told EL PAÍS from Mexico on Tuesday. “They need to leave me alone!”

Garzón, who came to prominence in 1998 after issuing an arrest order against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, under the principle of universal justice, was removed from office for 11 years in 2012 for ordering wiretaps of conversations between jailed leaders of the Gürtel corruption network and their lawyers.

The Supreme Court, which is the same body that handed down Garzón’s suspension, said the petition for his pardon lodged by European Judges for Democracy and Liberty (Medel) did not meet the necessary legal criteria. The court also noted that it considered it inappropriate to reinstate Garzón as he maintains that he was within his rights to order the recordings.

“In the request there is no indication that he has expressed remorse, and this court is not aware of him having done so,” the report read, adding that Garzón had displayed “indifference” to his suspension “as a way of reaffirming his position prior to the sentence.”

“I was expecting an adverse ruling,” Garzón told EL PAÍS on Tuesday after hearing the news. “What I find really upsetting is the re-victimization that I am being subjected to by the Supreme Court. Was the sentence not sufficient? Do they have to permanently humiliate me? I am serving out the sentence, but I disagree with it and I am within my rights to do so.”

Garzón believes that it is “not legal” for the Supreme Court to demand he show remorse. “This is not a legal requisite,” he said. Nor, he added, does the fact that it was Medel that had requested the pardon reflect “indifference.”

“I consider myself to be innocent,” he continued. “I believe that this offense was created with the express purpose of sentencing me, and that I am within my rights to disagree and to resort to another court, as I have done in Strasbourg, in order to evaluate whether the Supreme Court has violated my fundamental rights.”

The Supreme Court report comes two weeks after the deputy prosecutor for the same body issued his own, in which he said the Medel petition did “not meet the demands of the law to be granted.” Both reports will now be sent to the Justice Ministry, which has the final word.

The petition had been mislaid between the Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry for over a year. However, after considering it, the court noted that although it respected the decision to suspend Garzón, “the proposal cannot be accepted, nor examined in all its detail.”

Garzón believes that the justice minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, can easily sidestep the issue. He also expressed his regrets over what he described as the “double standards” in the government’s pardons policy, and the fact that no one has assumed responsibility for the loss of the petition. “If this had happened in any other courtroom, an investigation would have been opened,” he said. “But given that this is about Baltasar Garzón, anything goes.”

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