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Top Spanish judge investigated over US sabbatical

Top Spanish judge investigated over US sabbatical

The Spanish judge best known for indicting both Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden is accused of failing to report that he would be paid during a U.S. sabbatical while drawing 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 Pinochet in 1998 on charges of terrorism and other crimes and having him arrested in London.
Garzon also indicted 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.
Spanish judges must tell the judicial oversight board if they will receive an outside salary during leaves of absence, Zurita said.
Council investigators have to decide whether to dropp the case or penalize Garzon. A final decision is up to the watchdog board itself, Zurita said.


Updated : 2021-05-08 12:28 GMT+08:00