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Spanish judge Garzon asks Supreme Court to annul verdict

Spain’s renowned rights judge Baltasar Garzon filed papers with the Supreme Court Wednesday demanding that it annul its “arbitrary” decision to disbar him for 11 years for ordering wiretaps in a corruption probe.

Garzon argued “that the Supreme Court sentence seriously violated several of the fundamental rights which he, as all citizens have under the constitution, as well as his judicial independence,” his lawyers’ office said in a statement.

“He also argues firmly in his demand that the sentence is arbitrary, unreasonable and manifestly unjust,” Amparo Legal said, adding that Garzon believes the sentence is “grievously wrong”.

If the Supreme Court turns down Garzon’s request as expected, he will immediately appeal to the Supreme Constitutional Court, it said, noting that Spanish courts reject the “vast majority” of such demands.

The Supreme Court convicted Garzon on February 9 of abuse of power and suspended him from the bench for 11 years for illegally ordering the recording of conversations between suspects and their lawyers in a corruption case that implicated politicians of the conservative Popular Party, now in government.

The conviction halted the rise of a judge who won global renown by trying to extradite Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet from London in 1998 and has taken on Basque militants and even Al-Qaeda, but who stumbled when he tangled with a corruption probe targeting senior Spanish politicians.

Garzon is awaiting judgment in a second, more prominent trial for trying to investigate atrocities of the Franco era, in an alleged breach of an amnesty. He says the acts were crimes against humanity and not subject to an amnesty.

His defenders say both trials, as well a third case of alleged bribe-taking which the Supreme Court dismissed last week, are revenge by his enemies.