02 November 2008

The unusual suspects

A judge in Spain has recently referred a case for trial for crimes against humanity. What makes this trial unusual is that the accused is the former head-of-state General Franco. Those of you with GCSE history will have already spotted the snag with this plan: the small matter of Franco being dead for more than 30 years. For good measure judge Baltasar Garzon has also indicted 34 other assorted stooges of the former dictator's regime, all of whom are also no longer living. This will obviously limit the ability of the defence to make its case. The other obstacle to overcome is the fact there has been an amnesty law in place since 1977 that protects former regime members from being tried for war crimes.

No doubt there is much soul searching in Spain about whether this is meaningful or helps the country in any way come to terms with its past. But, in the week when it was revealed that British police had probably been under counting the number of violent crimes, I wondered whether there were plans to adopt this approach in the UK.

After all, it has certain obvious advantages - if you can pin something on a dead man, it would certainly help clear-up rates. Or perhaps we will see employment of mediums by the police, to interrogate crooks beyond the grave? The possibility of spectral mugging might explain how I can end up with no money at the end of the month.

No comments: