The Spanish judge who became an international hero by going after Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden was suspended Friday for allegedly abusing his authority by investigating what is arguably Spain's own biggest unresolved case: atrocities committed during and after its ruinous Civil War.
The punishment could effectively end Judge Baltasar Garzon's career.
The unanimous decision by a judicial oversight board, the General Council of the Judiciary, was made during an emergency meeting about Garzon, said its spokeswoman, Gabriela Bravo.
Supporters chanted, cheered and clapped later as Garzon emerged from the nearby National Court, where he works. He hugged co-workers and appeared to be holding back tears before getting into a bulletproof limousine and riding away.
Garzon, 54, famous worldwide for his cross-border justice cases, has been removed from his post pending his trial on charges of knowingly going beyond the limits of his jurisdiction in 2008 by investigating the execution or disappearance of more than 100,000 civilians at the hands of supporters of Gen. Francisco Franco during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War or in the early years of the Franco dictatorship.