Judge Baltasar Garzón

Judge Baltasar Garzón, Spain’s best-known investigating magistrate, himself went on trial in Madrid’s Supreme Court accused of abusing his powers in a corruption case. He is known for polarising public opinion in the fractious and deeply politicised Spanish judiciary. His often flamboyant and much-publicized investigations have led to controversy, and  people who admire his handling of one case may well deplore his conduct in another.

Judge Garzón is charged with illegally using phone taps to monitor conversations between lawyers and suspects held in detention, during his investigation of the “Gürtel scandal”. This case involves alleged bribes to senior members of the right-wing Partido Popular (PP), recently voted back into power.

Some see this trial as part of a “vendetta” against the popular judge, who has often faced opposition from powerful figures in the far right for his investigations into cases of abuse from Spain’s murky past.