More lawsuits! New & Improved lawsuits! Transoceanic lawsuits!
The lawsuit tally around the Garzón case just grew by one, but not any old one. This lawsuit is loaded with interesting features, the main one being that it originates in Argentina with charges of crimes against humanity against the Franco dictatorship in Spain. This kind of transnational lawsuit can be applied for war crimes and crimes against humanity, which under international law do not prescribe and fall under universal jurisdiction. In fact, there are legal precedents in that sense, the first ones having been set by certain Spanish judge of international fame in the legal battle against war criminals… go ahead, take a guess. That’s right.
The delicious irony is that Garzón had successfully brought several Argentine torturers to trial in Spain for crimes against humanity committed in Argentina during their dictatorship. The Spanish tribunals invoked universal jurisdiction and –even more to the point– overruled an Argentine 1977 amnesty law to do so.
So now several human rights organizations, Argentine and Spanish, together with the families of non-combatants disappeared after the civil war, are basically asking Argentina to do what Spain did for them: overrule the Spanish amnesty law and claim universal jurisdiction to bring the war criminals to justice. Karma loves symmetry.
This lawsuit is testimonial in many ways –the alleged perpertrators are all dead, for one– and it is very unlikely that the Argentine justice system will find it convenient to get into this kind of hairy mojo with it’s most important trading partner. But it adds an international dimension to the issue and pushes it closer to universal jurisdiction. If by remote chance the Argentine lawsuit is accepted, the Spanish Supreme Court will be acting against international law, and a whole new can of worms will open.
Let the dance begin…