The Spanish Judge Who Took On General Pinochet Is In Court For Abusing His Powers

baltasar garzon

One of Spain’s most prominent judges has gone on trial today having been accused of abusing his judicial powers in the supreme court, reports Al Jazeera.

Baltasar Garzon will face three trials, the first of which began today. The initial hearing will assess whether Garzon abused his powers when he ordered police to record conversations between lawyers and their clients.

Additionally, he is being investigated for ordering an investigation in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s (a possible breach of his judicial power) and for dropping a case against Spanish bank Santander after allegedly receiving payments from a New York-based institution.

The BBC reports that if Garzon is convicted of the first offence he could be banned from the legal profession for up to 17 years. He would, however, avoid jail time.

Al Jazeera adds that there were several protests outside the Madrid court house where Garzon was facing trial today. Garzon’s supporters claim that the charges are politically motivated. The first of the charges was reportedly brought against the judge by two businessmen who are themselves accused of bribing members of Spain’s People’s Party, which won the country’s national election in November.

Garzon has been praised in the past for his human rights actions having tried to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from the UK based on his human rights abuses.