Madrid: Spain`s Supreme Court cleared the way on Thursday for the judge known for indicting Osama bin Laden and Augusto Pinochet to be charged with abuse of power in a probe of Spanish civil war atrocities.
The decision by a five-judge panel to continue the case is a stinging setback for Judge Baltasar Garzon, a deeply polarising figurem who is accused of knowingly overstepping the bounds of his job in 2008 by investigating the atrocities.
Garzon, 54, denied any wrongdoing, telling journalists in Seville that he would "continue to defend my absolute innocence”.
The ultimate decision on whether to charge and put Garzon on trial is up to an investigating magistrate at the Supreme Court. That judge, Luciano Varela, said in a ruling in February that Garzon consciously ignored an amnesty decreed by Parliament in 1977 for civil war-era crimes.
Garzon, 54, appealed that ruling, denying any wrongdoing. Today`s decision rejecting his appeal allows the case to proceed and puts it back in the hands of Varela, whose call has the potential to end Garzon`s career.
Garzon, who has prosecuted everything from Islamic extremists to Basque separatists to Argentine "dirty war" suspects, is arguably one of Spain`s most divisive figures and a man with a lot of political enemies.