Baltasar Garzón’s second trial begins in Madrid

The Guardian reports: Observers from the world’s main human rights groups are in Madrid to monitor the second trial of the Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who is accused of abusing his position by opening an investigation into the deaths of 114,000 people during the Franco dictatorship.

Garzón faces a 20-year ban if found guilty of knowingly twisting the law by investigating Francoist human rights abuses in a case that opened at the supreme court on Tuesday morning.

Garzon appeared relaxed during the opening session of the trial, which his supporters say is politically motivated.

It is the most polemical of three separate but almost simultaneous cases in which the judge is accused of wilful abuse of his powers as an investigating magistrate at Spain’s national court.

Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (IJC) have all sent observers amid concerns that Garzón is being targeted because of his innovative use of international human rights laws.

“On principle, Amnesty doesn’t give an opinion on the charges faced by a single person – but the Garzón case is an exception and we cannot remain silent on it,” Hugo Relva, the legal adviser to AI, said.

“It is simply scandalous and unacceptable. The charges should be dropped and the case closed.

“This case affects the independence of judicial power in Spain. Other judges see it as a warning about what might happen to them if they continue with their own investigations.”

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