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Top Spanish judge under investigation

Top Spanish judge under investigation

Spain's most prominent judge is under investigation for allegedly failing to tell his superiors he was going to get paid by an American university during a sabbatical while continuing to draw his salary in Madrid, a judicial oversight board said Tuesday.
Judge Baltasar Garzon, an investigating magistrate at the National Court, is a workaholic best known for indicting former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 on charges of terrorism and other crimes and having him arrested in London.
Garzon also indicted Osama bin Laden in 2003, on grounds that the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks were prepared in part in Spain.
Until recently Garzon had been handling a politically sensitive corruption probe involving business people who allegedly paid bribes to obtain contracts awarded by local and regional governments in the Madrid and Valencia regions.
In the sabbatical case, there is no suggestion that Garzon engaged in tax evasion, but he may have broken rules on seeking permission for taking a leave of absence. If found guilty, Garzon could face disciplinary action ranging from a fine or suspension to outright expulsion, board spokesman Agustin Zurita said.
The General Council of the Judiciary, a watchdog body that supervises the Spanish court system, said it is looking into a leave of absence that Garzon took in 2005 and 2006 to teach, lecture and do research at New York University.
Garzon received just over $200,000 from the university, most of it in salary but also about $20,000 in travel expenses and a similar amount in tuition for his daughter at a school run by the United Nations, judicial officials said.
When a Spanish judge requests a paid leave of absence, he or she has to tell the judicial oversight board if they will be receiving an outside salary during that period, Zurita said.
Council investigators now have a month to look into the case and recommend either dropping it or imposing some degree of punishment against Garzon. A final decision is up to the watchdog board itself, Zurita said.


Updated : 2021-03-06 01:51 GMT+08:00