Rights group hails Spain's likely Guantanamo probe

1st April 2009, Comments 0 comments

A US right group says Spanish investigations are not symbolic and welcomes the possible investigation of former Bush advisors who helped create Guantanamo Bay.

WASHINGTON – A US rights group that provides lawyers for Guantanamo detainees Tuesday welcomed Spain's possible investigation of former Bush administration officials who created the prison camp at the US naval base in Cuba.

"The importance of this investigation can not be understated. Contrary to statements by some, the Spanish investigations are not ‘symbolic,’" Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) president Michael Ratner said in a statement.

"Just ask Augusto Pinochet, who was stranded under house arrest in England and who ultimately faced criminal charges in Chile because of the pressure of the Spanish courts," he added referring to Chile's dictator who died before going on trial.

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon – famous for his prosecution of human rights cases – is considering whether to investigate six former president George W Bush advisors who helped create the prison camp at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 800 detainees have been held since 2002, and some allegedly tortured.

The judge was responding to a complaint filed by the Association for the Dignity of Prisoners, a Spanish non-governmental group, according to Spain's Publico newspaper.

The former officials under the gun include Justice Department lawyer John Yoo and a top aide to former vice president Dick Cheney.

The case may take on extra weight in Spain because Spanish citizens were among those detained at the Guantanamo facility – set up by Bush to keep so-called "war-on-terror" suspects.

"The case may well lead to investigations of top officials, including Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales," Ratner said referring to the former defence secretary and attorney general under Bush.

"If and when arrest warrants are issued, 24 countries in Europe are obligated to enforce them. The world is getting smaller for the torture conspirators," he added.

Ratner said the investigation should send a message to President Barack Obama's administration "that it can no longer evade the question of accountability for officials who played a role in shaping and implementing a policy of torture."

AFP / Expatica

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