17 Feb 2012

Judge disbarred over illegal phone taps

10:10 am on 17 February 2012

A prominent judge in Spain has been disbarred after being found to have ordered illegal phone taps.

Judge Baltasar Garzon is best known for helping to secure the arrest of the former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet in London.

His supporters say he's being persecuted by enemies in the judicial system.

Judge Garzon, 58, has vowed to fight the conviction. But he is also involved in two other legal cases and observers say he may be facing years of struggle.

The BBC reports he was convicted last Thursday of authorising illegal recordings of conversations between lawyers and detainees accused of paying off Popular Party politicians in exchange for lucrative contracts.

As well as being suspended from the judiciary, he was fined 2500 euros ($US3300).

Other charges

Judget Garzon is also awaiting judgement in a second trial for trying to investigate atrocities committed during and after the Spanish Civil War in breach of a 1977 amnesty.

In a third case, he is accused of taking bribes from a large Spanish bank, and could be charged.

As well as pursuing General Pinochet, Judge Garzon also rose to prominence in Spain for investigating ETA, 1980s-era government death squads and indicting Osama Bin Laden.