Spain's embattled judge appeals against probe over wiretaps

26th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has appealed a decision to place him under judicial investigation for allegedly ordering illegal wiretaps during a probe into corruption involving the main opposition party, a judicial source said Tuesday.

The crusading judge's lawyer Francisco Baena Bocanegra tabled the appeal on Monday with Spain's Supreme Court, the judicial source said.

Three suspects in a corruption probe that has shaken Spain's main opposition Popular Party since last year have accused him of illegally ordering telephone wiretaps with their lawyers.

Last week the Supreme Court said the judge, best known for his attempt to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from Britain for human rights abuses in 1998, had been placed under formal investigation for "maladministration" over the case.

If convicted he would avoid prison but could be suspended for 12 to 20 years in that case, which would effectively end the career of the 54-year-old.

The case is one of three against Garzon. In May he was suspended from his job pending trial for abuse of power after he opened a probe into the disappearance of tens of thousands of people during Spain's 1936-39 civil war and General Francisco Franco's subsequent right-wing dictatorship.

He later accepted a temporary post at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The case follows a complaint by far-right groups who claim the probe violates an amnesty law passed in 1977, two years after Franco's death, for crimes committed under the general's rule.

Garzon had argued that the Franco-era disappearances constituted crimes against humanity and were therefore not covered by the amnesty.

The third case against him involves suspected bribery over payments he allegedly received for seminars in New York.

© 2010 AFP

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