10 Feb 2012

Spanish court convicts judge Garzon

Spain's top court has convicted judge Baltasar Garzon in an illegal phone-tapping case and suspended him from the legal profession for 11 years, according to a court official.

Garzon, 56, who became internationally well known for his attempts to extradite Chile's former ruler, Augusto Pinochet, was found guilty of ordering illegal recordings of conversations between suspects in a corruption case and their lawyers.


Human rights groups and many Spanish supporters of Garzon view the accusations as attacks on Garzon for his investigation, launched in 2008, into alleged crimes against humanity committed by Spain’s nationalist government during the 1936-39 civil war.

The supreme court said in a statement on Thursday that Garzon had been suspended from the bench for 11 years, which, given his age, could effectively end his career. Garzon acted arbitrarily in ordering jailhouse phone tapping of conversations between detainees and their lawyers, the court said. It said his actions "these days are only found in totalitarian regimes". The Switzerland-based International Commission of Jurists condemned the supreme court verdict as "deplorable". It said Garzon had been prosecuted simply for doing his job.

Al Jazeera English