A left-wing reporter serving his third day in preventive detention today and a magazine editor charged earlier this week with insulting the armed forces are the latest instances of an increasing conflict between critical and investigative journalism in Spain and the archaic leftovers of the Francoist judicial system.
Reporter Ricardo Cid, who writes in the leftist magazine La Calle, was being held at the Madrid central civil courts where he was led handcuffed by members of the paramilitary Civil Guard on Tuesday. Yesterday he was questioned over a series of articles he had published both in La Calle and in a second magazine called Interviu. Some of his articles dealt with Franco's repression. The magazine editor, German Alvarez, who runs the Madrid weekly Sabado Grafico, was, however, charged by a court-martial panel since his magazine had fallen afoul of military jurisdiction.The military court leveled charges against him in connection with a report in January of unrest among military officers who opposed the democratic process.
Similar reports at the time led to an identical charge of "insulting the armed forces" placed against the editor of a Madrid newspaper Diario 16.
As in the case of Diario's editor Miguel Angel Aguilar, the charges against Alvarez carries a maximum six-year jail term. Both journalists have to report to the barracks of the Madrid military governor, where the court-martial convened, twice a month until their cases are heard.
According to the prosecutor general of the supreme court, Eduardo Jauralde, post-Franco Spain needed a different type of judge who was abreast with the new conception of legality. "We need democratic judges, that is to say judges who opt for democracy, and there are very few democratic judges in Spain," he said in a speech yesterday. According to lawyer Joaquin Ruiz-Gimenez, who is a prominent promoter of human rights, "The acid test of a democratic judge is not only his capacity to accept the constitution but also his capacity to apply all the new legislation that abolishes former laws."
The editor of La Calle, Cesar Alonso de los Rios, said today that an unexpected difficulty that had surfaced in the questioning of his magazine's reporter Cid was the apparent pressure from the bench of judges at the central Madrid courts, aimed at pursuing the charges which were filed as a result of articles dating back as much as two years -- before the constitution was promulgated.