Leading Human Rights Judge Goes on Trial in Spain

Posted January 24th, 2012 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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A leading Spanish human rights judge went on trial Tuesday in Madrid – his second trial in as many weeks. Baltasar Garzon faces charges of exceeding his powers by violating a 1977 amnesty agreement.

Garzon is facing the Spanish Supreme Court on charges he ordered an investigation into the disappearance of 114,000 people during the Spanish civil war and the regime of General Francisco Franco, a period that spans 1939 to 1975.

The charges of exceeding his power were brought against Garzon by several right-wing groups. Top civil rights groups have strongly criticized the trial.

If convicted, the 56-year-old Garzon would not go to prison, but he could be suspended from being a judge for up to 20 years.

Garzon received international recognition for the 1998 extradition of Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet. Other cases probed by the judge include the indictment of Osama bin Laden, and probed alleged abuses at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Supreme Court in Madrid concluded an illegal wiretapping case Thursday against Garzon. The high court has yet to reach a verdict in that case. He also faces a possible third trial.