Garzon Formally Charged for Exceeding Jurisdiction, Could Be Suspended Within Days

by Julian Ku

We knew this was coming, but still it is a big deal:

MADRID — The Spanish judge who became an international hero by going after Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden was indicted Wednesday for having dared to investigate what is arguably Spain’s own biggest unresolved case: atrocities committed during and after its ruinous Civil War.

Baltasar Garzon was charged with knowingly acting without jurisdiction by launching a probe in 2008 of tens of thousands of wartime executions and disappearances of civilians by forces loyal to Gen. Francisco Franco. The crimes were covered by a 1977 amnesty.

Garzon does not face jail time but if convicted he could be removed from the bench for 10 to 20 years. A conviction would effectively end Garzon’s career as a judge, his attorney has said.

The indictment by Luciano Varela, an investigating magistrate at the Supreme Court, marks a devastating fall from grace for one of Spain’s most prominent and divisive public figures and a man well-known overseas for his cross-border justice cases.

Garzon, 54, is a hero to leftists and international human rights groups like Amnesty International, but he is a headline-loving egotist with a grudge against the right in the eyes of Spanish conservatives. He has prosecuted people ranging from Islamic extremists to Basque separatists to Argentine “dirty war” suspects, and has many political enemies.

Garzon will probably be suspended from his post at the National Court in a matter of days and a trial could start as early as June, Garzon’s lawyer Gonzalo Martinez-Fresneda told AP Wednesday.

http://opiniojuris.org/2010/04/08/garzon-formally-charged-for-exceeding-jurisdiction-could-be-suspended-within-days/

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