The Spanish word enchufe can mean either an electric plug or an electric socket. By association, it also means a connection, especially a useful personal connection which can get things done which might otherwise be tricky.
It's 35 years now since the death of Franco and there have been enormous changes, not least the successful transformation of Spain from a dictatorship to a modern, functioning democracy.But traces of the old regime still survive. And they were not happy when Spanish judge, Baltazar Garzón (the same judge who came to international attention with his indictment of Augusto Pinochet for war crimes), decided to launch an investigation into the disappearances and summary executions that occurred during the civil war and the post-war period that I wrote about recently.
In England, the Crown Prosecution Service exists to consider evidence gathered by the police and to decide whether there are grounds for a prosecution to be brought; in Spain that process is carried out by an examining judge, and is why Garzón was able to begin collecting evidence. It is also why right-wing groups who prefer to let sleeping dogs lie were able to lay charges against Garzón in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has now decided that the charges have substance, and so he has been charged with abuse of power.
The case is based on a law which was brought in in the early post-Franco days granting amnesty to those on both sides of the civil war who might otherwise face charges. Whereas South Africa set up its Truth and Reconciliation Council to bring past wrongs into the open and then move on, Spain adopted a policy of official amnesia. The civil war had pitted family members and neighbours against each other, and to probe too far into what had happened could be explosive. Thus, in opening his investigation Baltasar Garzón, it is argued, put himself in breach of this law.
In his defence, the judge argues that war crimes are specifically excluded from the possibility of amnesty under international law; this he believes overrides the relevant Spanish law, since his concern is to investigate and bring to justice those shown to have committed war crimes in the period under investigation.
If his right-wing opponents succeed with their case, then he faces up to 20 years suspension, effectively ending his judicial career and ridding Franco sympathisers of a substantial thorn in their side.
Acknowledgement: The photo above was downloaded from Google Images, and is the property of the BBC.