Spanish judge to probe Iraqi raid on refugee camp

14th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish judge will investigate the alleged role of three Iraqi officers, including the head of the army, in a deadly raid last April on a refugee camp housing thousands of outlawed Iranian opponents.

Judge Fernando Andreu has called on General Ali Ghaidan Majid, commander in chief of the Iraqi army, and two other officers to appear before him in October, according to a text of the ruling dated July 11 and seen by AFP Thursday.

Andreu had already decided last January to launch a probe into violence that left 11 people dead in 2009 at Iraq's Camp Ashraf.

The ruling said that investigation will now be enlarged to include the April 8 raid by Iraqi security forces that the United Nations says killed 34 refugees.

Camp Ashraf, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Iranian border, houses supporters of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), the Islamic republic's main exiled opposition.

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein welcomed the exiles to Iraq during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war and they have lived at the camp ever since.

But it has become a mounting problem for Iraqi authorities since US forces handed over security for the camp in January 2009, and amid pressure from Tehran to hand over the members of the militant group.

Andreu launched the probe under a legal doctrine in Spain known as "universal jurisdiction" which allows human rights crimes to be tried outside the country where they allegedly took place.

The judge had said in January he would close the dossier if Iraqi authorities opened their own investigation into 2009 deaths at the camp.

Iraq's foreign ministry informed Spanish authorities that it had carried out a legal investigation into the killings but Andreu rejected this response, arguing there was not enough evidence that a proper probe was being carried out.

© 2011 AFP

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