The National Court in Madrid took steps toward a criminal investigation of six high-level former Bush administration officials pursuant to a complaint filed by a Spanish human rights group. The 98-page complaint alleged that the officials–including the former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the former Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo, and the former under secretary of defense for policy Douglas J. Feith–violated international law by producing the legal framework within which the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was justified. The National Court assigned the case to Judge Baltasar Garzon, who is internationally reputed as a champion of human rights. Judge Garzon’s acceptance and subsequent referral to a prosecutor likely mean that investigation will follow. The investigation, in turn, could potentially lead to the issuing of arrest warrants, which would have symbolic, if not practical, meaning. The U.S. would be expected to ignore extradition requests of its former officials.
The complaint bases its argument on the Geneva Conventions and the 1984 Convention Against Torture to which both Spain and the U.S. are signatories, along with 143 other countries. Spain claims jurisdiction because five of its citizens or residents claim they were tortured while imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, and the torture convention authorizes member countries to investigate torture cases of their citizens.
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