British neo-Nazis plotted to kill Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón

The Telegraph, UK/February 11, 2011

A British based neo-Nazi group allegedly plotted to assassinate one of Spain's leading judges over his attempt to investigate the crimes of Spanish dictator Gen Francisco Franco, it has emerged.

Judge Baltasar Garzón, best known for attempting to extradite the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from Britain in 1998, revealed the alleged plot against his life in a new documentary film.

Members of the violent far-right group allegedly planned to murder the magistrate last summer in The Hague where he took up a temporary post at the International Criminal Court after being suspended from Spain's National Court.

The 54-year-old judge was suspended from his high profile job pending trial for abuse of power after he opened a probe into the disappearance of tens of thousands of people during Spain's 1936-39 Civil War and ensuing 36 year fascist dictatorship.

The case follows a complaint by far-right groups in Spain who claim the investigation violates an amnesty law passed in 1977, two years after Franco's death, for crimes committed under the dictator's rule.

The judge has revealed that he was notified last July of the threat to his life after emails between members of the group were intercepted by the FBI.

He was told that one message ordered British members of the group to coordinate with their Dutch counterparts. "We must liquidate the judge investigating the crimes of the Franco regime," were the orders reportedly given.

The details of the assassination plot emerge in the film, Listening to Judge Garzón, which premiers next week at the Berlinale film festival.

In it, the judge describes how it took two months to neutralise the threat following co-operation between the FBI, Scotland Yard and Spanish and Dutch police.

It is just the latest in a long series of failed attempts to kill the crusading judge, who has battled against Basque terrorist group ETA as well as tackled political corruption in Spain's right wing Popular Party.

Two years ago it emerged that ETA had attempted to send Garzón a bottle of French brandy laced with poison. And in 2000 an ETA sniper was discovered setting up a rifle in a flat opposite his Madrid office.

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