(Reuters) - Spain’s Supreme Court disbarred Judge Baltasar Garzon for 11 years Thursday for illegally tapping defense lawyers’ conversations.
This case and the two other trials against him are private prosecutions, brought by individuals and organizations rather than the state, against the recommendation of the public prosecutor who has recommended Garzon’s acquittal.
Thursday’s ruling, which is not subject to appeal, may effectively end his career of international human rights trials. Here are some of his prominent cases:
- In 2005, Garzon called for a “truth commission” to investigate crimes against humanity during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from the end of the civil war in 1939 to his death in 1975.
- Garzon was suspended in 2010 pending trial on charges he exceeded his authority by ordering an investigation into mass killings during the 1936-39 civil war. He had opened the investigation at the request of victims’ relatives in 2008 but dropped it, citing opposition from state prosecutors. The parties bringing the case allege Garzon violated a 1977 amnesty law.
- In October 1998, Garzon secured General Augusto Pinochet’s arrest in London and demanded his extradition to face charges of crimes against humanity during his military rule in Chile. He acted under Spain’s universal jurisdiction to pursue individuals outside Spanish territory.
- After Pinochet had spent months in detention in Britain, the High Court ordered the government to release a medical report on him and it was leaked to Spanish media, which said he had suffered brain damage. In March 2000 he returned to Chile after Britain decided he was medically unfit to stand trial.
- In 2005, Garzon secured an $8 million settlement for victims of Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship from Riggs National Corp, which admitted helping Pinochet launder money.
- The suspected leader of al Qaeda in Spain, accused of aiding the September 11 hijackers, went on trial along with 23 others in Madrid in April 2005 in Europe’s biggest court case against suspected Islamist militants. The case was prepared by Garzon, who had been investigating Islamic militancy since 1991.
- A court convicted 18 of the 24 accused, mostly of belonging to or cooperating with al Qaeda. The top three defendants were found not guilty.
- Garzon led investigations into the GAL police death squads organized by members of the Socialist government in the 1980s to crack down on Basque separatists. The probe was considered to have helped the center-right PP oust the Socialists in the 1996 election.
- Spain’s High Court sentenced Adolfo Scilingo, an Argentine former navy captain, to 640 years in jail in April 2005 for crimes against humanity, convicting him of throwing political prisoners from planes during Argentina’s “dirty war.” Garzon was the Spanish investigating magistrate.
- In 2002, Garzon suspended the activities of the left-wing political party Batasuna for at least three years, accusing it of funding and helping the armed Basque separatist group ETA.
Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit