Spanish judge opens Guantanamo investigation
MADRID — Spain’s top investigative magistrate opened an investigation into the Bush administration Wednesday over alleged torture of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
Judge Baltasar Garzon said documents declassified by the new U.S. government suggest the practice was systematic.
Garzon said he was acting under Spain’s observance of the principle of universal justice, which allows crimes allegedly committed in other countries to be prosecuted in Spain.
Garzon’s move is separate from a complaint by human rights lawyers that seeks charges against six specific Bush administration officials they accuse of creating a legal framework to permit torture of suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. detention facilities.
Spanish prosecutors on April 17 said any such probe should be carried out by the U.S. and recommended against it being launched in Spain. Garzon originally had that case, but ultimately it was transferred to another judge.
Now, Garzon is opening a probe into “possible material authors” of torture, accomplices and those who gave torture orders, although he does not name anyone specifically.
In a 10-page writ, he said documents on Bush-era treatment of prisoners, recently declassified by the Obama administration, “reveal what had been just an intuition: an authorized and systematic plan of torture and mistreatment of person denied freedom without any charge whatsoever and without the rights enjoyed by any detainee.”
Garzon cited media accounts of the documents and said he would ask the U.S. to send the documents to him.
He said he is also acting on the basis of accounts by four former Guantanamo inmates who have alleged in Spanish courts that they were tortured at that U.S. prison in eastern Cuba.
All four were once accused of belonging to a Spanish al-Qaida cell but eventually cleared of the accusations. One is a Spanish citizen, another is a Moroccan citizen who has lived in Spain for more than a decade and the other two are residents of Britain.
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