De: BBC News
Spain rallies behind Franco judge
Marches are being held across Spain in support of a high-profile judge accused of overreaching his powers by launching an inquiry into the Franco regime.
In 2008, Baltasar Garzon opened the probe - later shelved - into atrocities committed during the four-decade rule of General Francisco Franco.
A magistrate has ruled that the judge had acted without jurisdiction, and he now faces the prospect of a trial.
Protests took place in a dozen cities and thousands gathered in Madrid.
The case against Mr Garzon followed complaints by several Spanish right-wing groups.
They claimed he had knowingly exceeded his official remit in launching an investigation into tens of thousands of disappearances during Spain's 1936-1939 Civil War and under the Franco regime that followed.
Mr Garzon had ordered the immediate exhumation of civil war-era mass graves.
GARZON'S FAMOUS CASES
# Campaigned for extradition of former Chilean military ruler Gen Augusto Pinochet from UK to Spain over human rights abuses in 1998. Request turned down on health grounds
# Charged Osama Bin Laden over 9/11 attacks in 2003
# Tried unsuccessfully to prosecute Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi on charges of tax fraud and breaching anti-trust laws in Spain through stake in Spanish TV company Telecinco
In February, Supreme Court investigating magistrate Luciano Varela ruled that Mr Garzon had ignored a 1977 amnesty that covers crimes committed during the civil war.
The amnesty law pardoned politically motivated crimes committed by both sides. By guaranteeing that the past would not be raked over, it underpinned Spain's delicate transition from dictatorship to democracy, correspondents say.
Mr Garzon appealed against the ruling.
But earlier this month, Mr Varela asserted that Mr Garzon had been aware of his lack of jurisdiction due to the amnesty law.
"Conscious of his lack of jurisdiction... he constructed artificial arguments to justify his control of the penal proceedings," he said in a written ruling.
Mr Garzon, who is highly popular among the Spanish political left and international human rights campaigners, has strongly denied that he broke the law.
But some on the right accuse Mr Garzon of launching cases that are politically motivated.
Mr Garzon is famous for targeting international figures including Augusto Pinochet and Osama Bin Laden.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2010/04/24 18:51:47 GMT
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