Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 16:17 UK

Crusading Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon is suspended

Judge Baltasar Garzon. File photo
Mr Garzon is famous for targeting international figures

High-profile Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has been suspended from his post by the country's judicial body.

The decision was unanimously adopted by the General Council of the Judiciary.

He is due to face trial on charges that he abused his powers by opening an inquiry in 2008 into crimes committed during Francisco Franco's rule.

Mr Garzon was later forced to drop the investigation into the crimes committed during the 1936-39 Civil War in Spain, which are covered by an amnesty.

Controversial judge

In February, a Supreme Court investigating magistrate ruled that Mr Garzon had ignored the 1977 amnesty by launching the investigation.

Mr Garzon, 54, who is highly popular among the Spanish political left and international human rights campaigners, appealed against the ruling, saying his inquiry was legitimate.

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

But some on the right accuse Mr Garzon of launching cases that are politically motivated.

Tens of thousands of people disappeared during Spain's Civil War and under Gen Franco's regime that followed.

Mr Garzon is also famous for targeting international figures, including late Chilean military ruler Augusto Pinochet, and al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Earlier this week, Mr Garzon reportedly asked to take a leave of absence to work for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Judicial sources at Spain's National Court say Mr Garzon wants to work as an adviser for the ICC for seven months.

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NDTV Spanish judge who indicted bin Laden suspended - 31 hrs ago
The Independent Judge suspended over Franco war probe - 35 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Spanish judge Garzon suspended - 41 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Embattled Spanish judge suspended ahead of trial - 44 hrs ago
Times of India Spanish judge who indicted Osama suspended - 44 hrs ago

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