Garzón trial is "echo of Franco era," says 'New York Times'

Editorial calls trials "an offense against justice and history"

The New York Times has criticized the trial against Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón for allegedly overstepping his authority by opening a 2008 inquiry into crimes committed during the civil war and Franco dictatorship.

"Spain is now a vibrant democracy, but Judge Garzón's trial, which opened last week, is a disturbing echo of the Franco era's totalitarian thinking," the NYT said in an editorial published Saturday.

The charges against Garzón were brought by far-right groups.

The state prosecutor had sought a dismissal on the grounds that Garzón had committed no crime by trying to investigate the disappearance and deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Calling for his acquittal, the the NYT noted "criminal prosecution of magistrates for their rulings is rare." Garzón has been simultaneously hit with two other cases.

"His powerful enemies now see a chance to end his career. Judge Garzón is undeniably flamboyant and at times overreaches, but prosecuting him for digging into Franco-era crimes is an offense against justice and history," the editorial concludes.

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