Judge Baltasar Garzon

He has been likened to superman, the iceberg that struck the Titanic and even the great head of Inquisition Torquemada. Those fighting for justice love him. Those lurking in the darkness of the shadows, smuggling drugs, playing naughty games with public funds or building car bombs in the name of ETA hate him. In short, mention the name Garzon and the forces of evil cringe.

Born in Jaen in 1955, Garzon's father worked in a gas station. His mother came from the countryside. How could they ever have expected that the second of their five children would become the real-life equivalent of a cartoon super hero? He began his studies in a seminary, where he was required to put in 16 hours daily. After secondary school, he attended university in Sevilla, where he became a lawyer. He could have returned to Jaen, but instead settled on living dangerously in Madrid with his childhood sweetheart and three small children.

It's true, Garzon is fully aware that camera lenses are probably not the only thing pointing at him as he walks briskly into his offices every morning. Yet, in spite of death warrants issued by ETA, the Colombian and Turkish Mafia, and numerous other "bad guys", Garzon is untiring in his fight against corruption: money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism and government corruption. Yes, government corruption. It was thanks to Garzon that the socialists went down as he dredged up the ugly GAL scandal - in which government agents were taking care of terrorists without the help of the justice system. The governments of Argentina and Chile have not been exempt either, as Garzon has dutifully looked after tortured and disappeared Spanish citizens.

It is difficult to imagine that anyone has done more for the Spanish justice system - especially its image in the public's eye - than superman... er, Garzón.

Living in Andalucia