Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK

'Superjudge' with eye for the headlines

Demonstrators demand that Pinochet be brought to trial

Madrid Correspondent Daniel Schweimler profiles the Spanish judge who is spearheading the investigation into Gen Pinochet.

If any one judge in Spain was ever going to convince the British authorities to arrest General Pinochet it was always going to be Baltasar Garzon.

He has a formidable reputation in Spain as a hard-working incorruptable and highly principled investigator winning the respect of millions of Spaniards for several high profile cases in recent years.

[ image: Judge Garzon wants to extend the charges against the general]
Judge Garzon wants to extend the charges against the general
He's also gained many enemies. A Socialist, he gained prominence for his actions against the semi-official (GAL) death squads which operated in Spain's Basque region in the early 1980s.

That ended with the former Socialist Interior Minister, Jose Barrionuevo, in prison. But his inpartiality is not questioned since he's also investigated the Basque separatist movement, ETA.

Political ambitions

Baltasar Garzon is also known to harbour political ambitions and spent several months as a junior minister in the previous Socialist government.

He walked out saying he wasn't being given the tools to do the job however party sources said he was upset about being passed over for higher posts.

[ image: Anti-Pinochet protestors view Judge Garzon as a hero]
Anti-Pinochet protestors view Judge Garzon as a hero
The 42-year-old judge has been accused of actively seeking publicity but his investigations into the torture and killings by the Argentinian military regime in the 1970s and 80s and the parallel investigation by his colleague, Manuel Garcia Castellon, had somewhat stalled.

By implicating the former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet in the case and seeking his arrest, Baltasar Garzon has gone for maximum publicity. It was a gamble but a gamble which appears to have paid off and the name of Baltasar Garzon is now one to be reckoned with on the international, as well as the Spanish stage.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

In this section

Re-opening the wounds of the past

From Business
Pinochet saga bad for business

Pinochet profile: Saviour or tyrant

The Pinochet case: Timeline

Exiled writer urges Pinochet to repent