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Baltasar Garzon’s trial puts spotlight on Spain’s years of war and dictatorship

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Trial reopens wounds almost 40 years since death of the Spanish dictator.

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon goes on trial

Liberal magistrate who had Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet arrested is now in the dock himself.
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Spanish prosecuting judge Baltasar Garzon puts on his robes at the start of his trial today in Madrid (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

To his supporters Baltasar Garzon is a crusader for human rights, a man who truly speaks for the dead, the man who successfully used European law to have the British authorities arrest Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London.

To his detractors, the 56-year old prosecuting magistrate is a meddlesome, liberal jurist who uses his authority to bend the law and carry out vendettas against political opponents.

Garzon was arrested and suspended from his position almost two years ago on three separate charges. Today the first trial got underway in Spain's Supreme Court. He is accused of using illegal wire taps in investigations of some businessmen who funded Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Parti Popular.

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