Spain's court takes aim at Chinese leaders over Tibet

6th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Spain’s High Court agrees to probe into allegations that seven top Chinese officials have violated human rights while suppressing protests in Tibet earlier this year.

6 August 2008

MADRID - Spain's High Court on Tuesday agreed to investigate seven-high ranking Chinese officials, including two government ministers, over allegations that they violated human rights in suppressing protests in Tibet earlier this year.

The decision, which comes just three days before the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, is based on accusations presented by Tibetan human rights groups under Spanish laws that empower the High Court to investigate rights abuses committed anywhere in the world.

According to papers filed by investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz, the case alleges that the Chinese officials oversaw "widespread and systematic attacks against Tibet's civilian population, causing at least 203 deaths, over 1,000 serious injuries and 5,972 illegal detentions and disappearances".

The investigation focuses on the actions of Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, State Security Minister Geng Huichang and Tibet's hard-line Communist Party boss Zhang Qingli, as well as two army generals and two senior civil servants.

China blamed Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for plotting the unrest that began on 10 March when it claimed Tibetan mobs attacked ethnic Chinese in Lhasa, sparking a crackdown across the region.

Despite the timing of Pedraz's decision, Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega denied Tuesday that the investigation could trigger a diplomatic row with China.

"The Chinese authorities know that [Spain's] justice system is independent".

Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and Industry Minister Miguel Sebastián are expected to arrive in Beijing Wednesday on a prescheduled visit. They will meet with Chinese officials before attending the opening ceremony on Friday alongside Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.

[El Pais / Angeles Espinosa / Expatica]

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