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Spain prosecutor asks court to throw out Garzon trial

Spanish public prosecutors Tuesday called on the Supreme Court to drop judge Baltasar Garzon’s trial for abuse of power for trying to prosecute atrocities under General Francisco Franco.

“We agree with the arguments put forward by the defence. We ask that the trial be shelved,” said Supreme Court public prosecutor Luis Navajas during the first day of Garzon’s trial.

The judge is charged with exceeding his powers on the grounds that the alleged crimes were covered by an amnesty agreed in 1977 as Spain moved towards democracy two years after Franco’s death.

Garzon, who gained fame by pursuing former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, argues that the acts were crimes against humanity and therefore not subject to the amnesty agreed by Spain’s main political parties.

If convicted he would not go to prison but could be suspended from the legal profession for up to 20 years, putting an end to his career.

Earlier on Tuesday Garzon’s lawyer, Gonzalo Martinez-Fresneda, asked that the trial be dismissed because it stems from a private complaint from two right-wing groups and there is no “directly harmed” party in the case.

He also questioned the impartiality of the head judge in the case, Luciano Varela.

The seven-judge panel that is hearing the case has until January 31 to consider these arguments.

If they accept them the case against Garzon could be thrown out. If not the trial will resume next Tuesday with Garzon’s testimony.