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Colombian politicians condemn shamed Spanish judge

posted by Mary Cecelia Bittner

ORDONEZ

A Spanish judge’s conviction has prompted questions over his role as an adviser on Colombia at the Organization of American States [OAS], reported local media.

Senator Armando Benedetti asked president Santos to “reconsider” the employment of Baltazar Garzon for advice on issues regarding transitional justice.

Garzon has worked as Colombia’s OAS consultant for the Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP), providing counsel on human rights abuse, paramilitary activities, and other topics regarding Colombia’s transition to a peaceful state.

A Spanish Supreme Court convicted the “super judge” Thursday of wiretapping, banning him from practicing law in Spain for 11 years. Garzon is accused of illegally intercepting communications between inmates and their lawyers in a corruption case.

Referring to the DAS wiretapping scandal, Benedetti pointed out that the practice is a sensitive crime in Colombia and therefore no one in the Colombian government should support Garzon.

Some postulate that this ruling will end his career as a judge who is internationally renowned for his human rights work, in particular his prosecution of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and his investigations into deaths that occurred during Spain’s Franco regime.

Some members of the Colombian government are moving fast to distance distance themselves from the shamed judge. The Minister of the Interior German Vargas Lleras claims that  Garzon had already completed his duties as Colombia’s OAS adviser and distanced the government from his employment, saying “the judge’s fees were never paid by the Colombian government, but by the OAS.”

President Santos has defended Garzon’s work in Colombia, pointing out that he played a large role in the international validation paramilitary disarmament, as well as promoting the principles of truth and justice, and providing a legal framework that supported the process. Garzon’s early work in Colombia included interviews with the former heads of paramilitary groups as well as with victims.

Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez, who had previously questioned Garzon’s advisory role in Colombia, declared Thursday that no Colombian authority can accept the judge’s advice, stating that he would be vigilant in enforcing this rule.


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