Spain's Rogue Judge Now in Crosshairs Himself
Lawyer: Baltasar Garzon charges 'witchhunt' for conservative targets
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2012 11:44 AM CST
In this April 15, 2010 file photo, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon arrives at the Supreme Court in Madrid.   (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano, File)

(Newser) – A crusading Spanish judge who used his country's universal jurisdiction laws to indict Augusto Pinochet in 1998 and Osama bin Laden in 2003, and who probed the US for abuses at Guantanamo Bay, now finds himself under investigation for an array of accusations, reports the AP. On Tuesday, Judge Baltasar Garzon goes on trial for ordering illegal wiretaps; a week later he faces charges for his investigation of Franco-era killings and forced disappearances, which prosecutors say overstepped his jurisdiction. In addition, he is under investigation for his relationship with a large Spanish bank.

Garzon's efforts have made him a favorite of human rights groups, but brought him under heavy fire from conservatives, especially in Spain. "Hunting season is now open," said a Spanish judge emeritus at the Supreme Court, adding that many people in Spain were after Garzon. Garzon faces no jail time for any of the charges, although he could be removed from the bench for up to 20 years. Even if Garzon is acquitted on all charges, the nature of the trials would make it nearly impossible for him to return to the bench, according to his lawyer. "Judge Garzon is facing the perfect storm," said his attorney.