Top Spanish rights judge on trial Nov 29: court

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Top Spanish human rights judge Baltasar Garzon will stand trial on November 29 in one of three court cases against the man who made his name fighting to try dictators.

Garzon, 56, is accused of ordering the wiretapping of telephones belonging to members of the conservative opposition Popular Party in a scandal that broke in 2009.

The case will be heard on November 29, Madrid's High Court said in a statement. If found guilty, Garzon risks being banned from the legal profession for several years.

The investigating judge also faces possible trial in a separate case in which he is accused of exceeding his authority in ordering a probe into disappearances of Spaniards during the 1936-1939 Civil War, in breach of an amnesty agreement.

He was suspended from the courts last year pending that case and has since been working as a consultant at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

In a third case he is alleged to have received payments from the major bank Santander before dismissing a court case against it.

Trial dates for the latter two cases have yet to be set.

Garzon came to world prominence in 1998 when he successfully pushed for the arrest of Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet in London. Pinochet died without being brought to trial.

© 2011 AFP

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