Internationally known as the Spanish judge who indicted the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Baltazar Garzon left a Madrid court after finding himself in the dock.
Defiantly wearing his robes of office for his appearance, he was quickly if not nervously asked to remove them by the trial judge.
Garzon is charged with illegally authorising police to bug the conversations of lawyers he suspected of money laundering.
Defending himself he said in court: “We are here talking about a criminal organisation that was using all its efforts to promote its activities, which included bribery, peddling drugs and corruption, and they even tried to go on with it regardless of the circumstances.
Garzon has wide support for conducting some of Spain’s most celebrated cases. Many gathered outside the court in protest. They believe the trial, the first of three linked to his investigations into human rights abuses, are politically motivated.
If convicted in the first, Judge Garzon is likely to be suspended from the legal profession for 17 years.