Spain drops case against Bush officials over Guantanamo

13th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish judge Wednesday dismissed a complaint filed against former top US officials over alleged torture at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Judge Eloy Velasco decided to throw out the case as he said the US justice system is competent to handle any such complaint.

He also argued that the Association for the Dignity of Prisoners of Spain which filed the suit "is not based in Spain."

The association had alleged in 2009 that six officials in the administration of former president George W. Bush, including ex-US attorney general Alberto Gonzales, sanctioned torture against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

In 2005 Spain declared itself competent to investigate any crime committed abroad under the principle of "universal jurisdiction".

But after diplomatic problems the scope of the inquiries was reduced in 2009.

Spanish courts can now deal only with cases that have a clear link with Spain, or cases that are not being investigated in countries where the offences are alleged to have been committed.

A Spanish court is also investigating a complaint by a Moroccan who said he was tortured while at Guantanamo.

The National Court said in February it was competent to take the case as the complainant, Lahcen Ikassrien, has been living in Spain for 13 years.

The US detention camp in Cuba was set up to hold foreigners captured after US-led forces invaded Afghanistan to root out Al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 against the United States.

US President Barack Obama pledged on taking office in 2009 to shut down Guantanamo -- seen by critics as a symbol of excesses in George W. Bush's "war on terror" -- within a year.

But Obama has failed to meet the deadline due largely to pressure from the US Congress, with lawmakers staunchly opposing efforts to bring most-wanted extremists onto US soil for trial.

The White House earlier this month reaffirmed its commitment to closing the prison, despite a decision to try the accused September 11 plotters at the camp.

© 2011 AFP

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