Baltasar Garzón has been declared guilty. Why this is a bad day for the Spanish justice system had been explained a few days before the verdict by Francesc de Carreras.
Garzón has undoubtedly gained a place in history. The ICTY and the ICTR had already been created, but the ICC was still in the lobbying phase when Garzón in 1998 made his case against Pinochet. Many lawyers in the whole world have admired his early efforts to make universal jurisdiction a principle to be reckoned with.
Along the line of universal jurisdiction Garzón in 2008 tried to break the Spanish omertà by opening the Pandora's Box of investigating the crimes of the Franco regime.
In Catalonia he would be celebrated for this, had he not rounded up Catalan radicals in 1992. Two factors converged at that time to make Garzón the centre of attention. The first is that part of terrorist Terra Lliure had agreed with Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) to end all armed operations and reintegrate into civil society. Many of this group were absorbed into ERC. But several others refused the agreement, which is why the Spanish state implemented a kind of carrot and stick approach; the stick being the so called Operation Garzón against the remaining terrorists just before the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. This was the second factor: there were fears that the event could be used for high profile terrorist activity.
Some of the detainees claimed to have been tortured by the police, allegations that were never investigated in Spain, which in turn in 2004 was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.
Not to investigate allegations of torture cannot be condoned. Yet it may be pointed out that there appears to be a certain hipocrisy on the side of some Catalan separatists: members of Terra Lliure "killed in action" still receive public homages.
Baltasar Garzón may now put his future in the hands of the instances of universal justice he once helped to create to find a new job, and of the European Court of Human Rights that once was so critical of his actions to revoke the ruling of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo that has now condemned him.