Spain’s highest-profile judge Balthazar Garzon may be heading for trial himself after the country’s Supreme Court ruled it was likely he had abused his powers.
He is accused of improperly investigating alleged human rights crimes carried out under the dictatorship of the late General Franco.
The case stems from a lawsuit brought by far-right groups, and they now have 10 days to request a hearing or the charges will be dropped. Until then Garzon is suspended.
“I ask for the judiciary to be respected in the exercise of its powers. I believe in the presumption of innocence, even when the person involved is a judge. I believe and trust in justice and therefore the Supreme Court,” said Justice Minister Francisco Caama.
In 2008 the UN’s Human Rights Committee called on Spain to modify the amnesty passed in 1977, two years after Franco’s death, for crimes committed during the Spanish Civil war and Franco’s rule; to recognise there could be no time limit or indemnity for such crimes.
Garzon was rebuffed at the end of that year by the Supreme Court and all exhumations of mass graves and investigations by his office ended. But he is accused of knowingly trying to illegally bypass the constitutionally-binding amnesty that had all-party backing 33 years ago.