Former Magistrate Baltasar Garzón Condemned to 11 Years of Disbarment for Listening in on Gürtel Suspects’ Conversations

Former Magistrate Baltasar Garzón Condemned to 11 Years of Disbarment for Listening in on Gürtel Suspects’ Conversations
The ex-magistrate of the National Court has two other cases pending
The Criminal Chamber’s decision was unanimous

El País: Garzón condenado a 11 años de inhabilitación por las escuchas de Gürtel
José Yoldi and Julio M. Lázaro reporting from Madrid February 9, 2012

The Criminal Chamber of the National Court has condemned Judge Baltasar Garzón for ordering the recording of conversations between the ringleaders of the Gürtel group and their lawyers. The judgment, which was declared at precisely two in the afternoon, has been unanimously approved. Just yesterday approval for sentencing was given for one of the other three lawsuits facing the judge: the accusation of a breach of legal duty for investigating crimes committed during Franco’s regime.

This accusation, sustained by the corrupt political leaders Francisco Correa and Pablo Crespo and their lawyer Ignacio Peláez, who represents a business linked to the José Luis Ulibarri plot, demanded between 10 and 17 years of disbarment for Garzón for violating the defense’s right to not have their communications interfered with while they were in prison.

“Monstruous”, “defamatory”, “unjust”, “barbaric”, “unconstitutional”…the prosecutor of Judge Garzón’s case has not let up on making damaging remarks during the trail and has presented the accused as a prevaricator and systemic violator of all constitutional rights, “a kind of Big Brother who all hear and all see.” So it went, and always interspersed between songs about companionship and laments about what a “thankless task” and “great discomfort” it was to accuse a former companion like Garzón, with whom he shared some jobs in the National Court. But wearing the robes that they were, he said, he had no other way to prevent the further violation of constitutional rights.

The attorneys for the Supreme Court, Antolín Herrero and Pilar Valcárcel, defended the legality of Judge Garzón’s intervention in the conversations between the directors of the Gürtel conspiracy by saying his action was “proportionate” to the gravity of the crimes, and they asked the high court for the magistrate’s absolution.

In his report, Antolín Herrero maintained that Judge Garzón did not violate the law, as there is margin for interpretation in the laws about a judge bringing an investigation forward given the guaranteed rights of the imputed.

The attorney made it clear that the accuser Ignacio Peláez was not “expressly called for” when he interviewed Crespo and Correa in prison because they were not his clients; his client, the businessman José Luis Ulibarri, was not imprisoned. According to the attorney, “the defendant’s conditions did not correspond with those of this lawyer, and thus their conversations did not have particularity.”

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