Spanish judge to ask US if it plans probe of Bush administration officials over torture

Spanish judge asks US if it will probe torture

MADRID — A Spanish judge said Tuesday he will ask the United States if it plans a probe of six senior Bush administration officials accused of creating a legal framework for torture of terror suspects, before deciding whether to open his own investigation.

Judge Eloy Velasco said Spain can act only if the United States has not conducted a torture investigation of its own and does not plan one.

Velasco is handling a complaint filed by human rights lawyers under Spain’s principle of universal justice, which holds that grave crimes like terrorism, genocide or torture can be prosecuted here even if alleged to have been committed abroad.

“As we are in a preliminary phase, it seems more in line with our complex system of universal prosecution” to ask the Obama administration what its plans are for the six Bush administration officials named in the complaint, including former US attorney general Alberto Gonzales, Velasco wrote in a five-page ruling.

Court prosecutors and the Spanish attorney general recommended in a nonbinding writ last month against launching such a probe here, saying such a procedure is up to the United States. But Velasco — who was assigned the case when original judge Baltasar Garzon handed it back to the court — has not formally dropped it.


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