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 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a senior appointment with huge potent...
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...