Spain's leading human rights judge convicted of wiretapping
Spain's best-known judge, Baltasar Garzón, suffered an abrupt and dramatic end to his legal career when he was banned from his profession for 11 years for authorising illicit recordings of lawyers' conversations during a massive political corruption case. The ruling is not subject to appeal.
Mr Garzón, who is well known for pursuing international human rights cases, is most famous for his attempt to extradite General Augusto Pinochet in 1998, which saw the former Chilean dictator detained for a year in Britain. He also succeeded in putting Adolfo Scilingo, a notorious member of the 1970s Argentinean junta, behind bars.
Yesterday's verdict, though, means Mr Garzón's days as Spain's most intrepid legal watchdog are over. The 56-year-old was barred after his wiretaps in the so-called "Gurtel case" – a corruption scandal in which entrepreneurs were accused of paying off politicians from the ruling Partido Popular party in order to obtain regional government contracts – were described by the judges as "practices of totalitarian regimes". Mr Garzón must also pay the defence team's costs, as well as an as yet unspecified fine.
Mr Garzón had claimed the wiretaps were necessary because he believed witnesses in the Gurtel case were giving their defence lawyers instructions to launder money.
But the statement by the judges, who issued a unanimous verdict, gave no quarter and argued that Mr Garzón had used police-state methods that stripped away basic the legal rights of the accused, engaged in professional misconduct and violated constitutional guarantees.
Mr Garzón's legal headaches do not end there, however, because he also faces two other trials. In one, he is accused of overstepping his authority in 2008 during his attempts to investigate human rights abuses during the Franco era. In another case, he is charged with accepting illicit payments from Spain's biggest bank, Santander.
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 There is literally not a single woman in this iPhone 6 queue
- 3 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Scottish independence referendum: JK Rowling, Russell Brand, Nigel Farage and more react to the 'No' vote
Scottish independence referendum: Frankie Boyle reacts to nation's 'No' vote - 'To be fair, I've always hated Scotland'
Scottish independence referendum results: David Cameron pledges plans for 'English votes for English laws' by January
Scottish independence live: Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum - as it happened
Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...
£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...
£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...