May 11, 2010 / 6:21 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-Spain's Garzon requests work transfer to The Hague

(Updates with quote from Hague chief prosecutor)

MADRID, May 11 (Reuters) - Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who is facing three Supreme Court enquiries, has asked for a transfer to work at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on Tuesday.

Garzon has asked the Spanish judges’ governing body, the CGPJ, to give him permission to work as a consultant at The Hague for seven months, according to high court sources in Madrid.

“The request was submitted this morning and the CGPJ will review it tomorrow,” a CGPJ source said.

Moreno-Ocampo said he expected the CGPJ to approve the transfer.

“Judge Garzon’s extensive experience in investigating massive crimes committed by states and non-state organisations will be a great contribution to my office,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

Garzon won international fame for his attempt in 1998 to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for human rights abuses.

Right-wing unions and political parties accused Garzon this year of abusing his judicial powers by opening an investigation into alleged crimes carried out under the 1939-75 dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

The Supreme Court ruled that he had probably abused his judicial powers in ordering the probe, a ruling against which Garzon appealed last month on the grounds of partiality on the part of the Supreme Court justice in charge of the case.

He also faces two other Supreme Court enquiries: one for bugging corruption suspects linked to the opposition Popular Party, and another for dropping an investigation into the head of Spain’s biggest bank Santander after receiving payments for giving courses sponsored by the bank in New York.

Rights activists around the world have praised Garzon for pioneering the principle of universal jurisdiction, under which alleged perpetrators of crimes such as genocide can be tried anywhere if the courts of their own countries fail to prosecute.

In Spain he is a divisive figure, praised by descendants of civil war victims and members of the left for his attempt to investigate the crimes of Franco, but derided by conservatives as a publicity-seeking tool of the ruling Socialists.

The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. (Reporting by Blanca Rodriguez and Itziar Reinlein; writing by Judy MacInnes and Jonathan Gleave; editing by Andrew Roche) (Reuters Messaging: blanca.rodrí + 34 915858341; blanca.rodrí

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