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Spain judge seeks Guantanamo 'torture' prosecution plan from US

[JURIST] A Spanish judge has said that he will ask the US if it plans to prosecute six US officials for allegedly contributing to torture at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report] before deciding whether to open an investigation in Spain. Judge Eloy Velasco of Spain's Audiencia Nacional on Monday requested [text, TIFF, in Spanish] information from the US about potential charges against six former government lawyers, including David Addington, John Yoo, and former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, for their role in creating the legal definition of torture adopted by the administration of former US president George W. Bush. Velasco is considering whether to admit a complaint [text, PDF, in Spanish] under Spain's universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder] statute, which gives Spain jurisdiction over foreign torture, terrorism, and war crimes only if the case is not subject to the legal system of the country involved. Velasco said that the nationality and location of the suspects and the ability to gather more complete evidence make the US a better venue [El Pais report, in Spanish] for the prosecution, but suggested that he would be willing to exercise universal jurisdiction if the US did not investigate the claims.

Velasco took over [JURIST report] the case from Judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURST news archive], who opened a separate investigation [JURIST report] in April related to detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay. Also in April, Spanish Attorney General Candido Conde Pumpido [official profile, in Spanish], responding to a request [JURIST report] from Garzon, said that he would not recommend trying any of the named defendants. In February, Spain announced that it is considering legislation to limit [JURIST report] the the scope of universal jurisdiction to those cases that have a substantial link to the country or its citizens.

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