The campaigning Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has been cleared of illegally ordering an investigation into mass murder by forces loyal to the former fascist dictator General Franco.
Spain’s Supreme Court judges acquitted him in a six-to-one vote.
Garzon is internationally known for ordering the arrest of Chile’s General Pinochet in 1998.
In a separate case earlier this month he was disbarred for 11 years for illegally recording defence lawyers’ conversations with clients.
This latest ruling is based on an inquiry Garzon ordered into the murders of more than 100,000 people by Franco forces.
He was charged with violating a 1977 amnesty for political crimes, but he maintained he was acting at the behest of the victims’ families and he was supported by international law.
Franco ruled Spain from the end of the civil war in 1939 until his death in 1975.
Garzon’s investigations have highlighted present-day divisions in Spanish society between those who suffered under the regime and those who did not.
The UN Human Rights office has urged Spain to investigate Franco-era crimes, and to repeal the amnesty.
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