CONTROVERSIAL human rights judge Baltasar Garzon is in court this week facing charges of power abuse.
Garzon, 56, has spent years attempting to convict foreign dictators and alleged terrorists, and made world news after ordering the arrest of Chile’s ex-dictator General Pinochet in London.
He is now on trial at Madrid’s supreme court for allegedly ordering illegal interceptions of lawyer-client relationships during an investigation into political corruption in Spain.
“Just because a judge is investigating a crime, it doesn’t mean he can do whatever he wants,” said prosecution lawyer Ignacio Peláez. “Even criminals have certain rights.”
It is one of three charges Garzon is facing.
The second case accuses Garzon of breaching Spanish law in 2008 by opening an investigation into the alleged disappearance of over 100,000 people during Franco’s regime.
If convicted he could be removed from court for up to 20 years.
“I’m optimistic,” Garzon said. “If everything goes as it should, I will be found not guilty.”
Garzon worked as an investigative judge for several years, working on cases involving the governments of Israel and China, Basque terrorist group Eta, drug clans and investigations into torture on detainees at Guantanamo Bay.