Baltasar Garzón Real (born 26 October 1955) is a Spanish judge currently seated on the Criminal Court of Spain. He is examining magistrate of the Juzgado Central de Instrucción, n.º 5, which investigate the most important criminal cases in Spain, that will be later judged by the Audiencia Nacional or the Spanish Central Criminal Court.
In 1993, he asked for an extended leave of absence as a judge and went into politics, running for the Congreso de los Diputados (the lower house of the Spanish parliament) on the party list of then ruling party PSOE. He was also declared head of a strengthened National Plan Against Drugs by Spanish prime minister Felipe González. He resigned this post shortly after, however, complaining of lack of support from the government. After his return to the Audiencia Nacional, he led a series of investigations that helped the conviction of a PSOE minister as head of the GAL state terrorist groups.
Born in Torres de Albánchez, Jaén, Spain, Garzón came to international attention on 10 October 1998 when he issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet over the alleged deaths and torture of Spanish citizens during his tenure; the Chilean Truth Commission (1990-91) report was the basis for the warrant, marking an unprecedented use of universal jurisdiction to attempt to try a former dictator for an international crime. Eventually it was turned down by British Home Secretary Jack Straw, who refused Garzón's request to have Pinochet extradited to Spain on grounds of Pinochet's health.