Spanish Judges Rule That U.S. Torture Case Can Proceed

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We have previously discussed the Obama administration’s attempt to derail a Spanish judicial investigation into torture, here. Spanish law recognizes the principle of universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction (UJ) is a doctrine of international law that holds that certain crimes are so terrible that the duty to prosecute them transcends all borders.

On November 4, 2009, the Spanish government enacted a bill that would limit the reach of its universal jurisdiction law. The bill would limit jurisdiction to only those cases where  (i) the alleged perpetrators are present in Spain, (ii) the victims are of Spanish nationality, or (iii) there is some relevant link to Spanish interests.

Recent events in Spain haven’t been working out for the Obama administration.

Late last month the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) has done what surely will bring hope to those who believe that no one is above the law. It has rejected a Spanish prosecutor’s effort to stop the investigation and agreed to continue investigating allegations that Lahcen Ikassrien, a Moroccan-born Spanish resident, was tortured at Guantánamo  where he was held from 2002 to 2005.

This will be the first real investigation of the U.S. torture program. The investigation will be overseen by Judge Pablo Ruz. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commanding officer at Guantánamo, has been implicated in a dossier submitted to the court. It is believed that there is sufficient evidence for the court to issue a subpoena for Miller to testify before Judge Ruz. Miller would certainly refuse to testify, then Judge Ruz could issue an arrest warrant and start extradition proceedings.

The Obama administration’s refusal to investigate Bush administration officials has stained the U.S. justice system. The fact that the Spanish National Court is doing what should have been done by an American court is a national disgrace.

H/T: Center for Constitutional Rights, Andy Worthington, The Center for Justice & Accountability.

29 thoughts on “Spanish Judges Rule That U.S. Torture Case Can Proceed”

  1. Well said Archie. We have lost our integrity through torture and through our arrogance when it comes to other nations.

  2. There was a time when no country no matter how big or powerful would have dared do what the Spanish legal system is doing. Those times though are no longer. You see the US is no longer what it used to be. Certainly it still has the largest, most powerful military but it has lost its soft power. If you consider what the American military has not been able to accomplish with all its bombs, planes, missiles, drones, feet on the ground and naval armada, you will come to the realizatiion that soft power is actually the strongest power the US had. It’s unfortunate that it is no more. Bush threw it out the window when he decided to go after Iraq, the only country in the Middle East capable of containing the nefarious plans of Iran. Now Wikileaks has also shown everyone that the American emperor has no clothes. A disintegrating, middle aged, economically devestated, morally bereft, cynical and indecent remnant of a tottering empire is all that is left of the shining city on the hill, and guess what? No one in the American government could care less!

  3. Nate,
    I agree with your analysis. It wouldn’t be pretty, but doing the right thing can be messy sometimes.

  4. When the BuCh administration left the round table to pursue their own agenda: war, and shortly thereafter Wall St. left the round table to pursue their own agenda: profits, and then Main St. left the round table to pursue their own agenda: stuff, well, perhaps there’s too much guilt amongst the common American to aspire to justice.

    Justice is not something that much of the American population would embrace, namely the BuCh trial. But it must be done for the good of all.

    My $.02.

  5. tony c.,
    I think you are correct that once the US aid money dries up, the world’s patience with our atrocities will evaporate. I hope that Spain is already there.

  6. @rafflaw: Yeah, I really wonder when, or if, the rest of the world will ever make an open and politically or financially or militarily consequential break with the USA. It may not ever happen, their tolerance for blatant hypocrisy may be infinite. But then I also think that someday, we’ll run out of money, and their tolerance may be lowered to a breaking point.

  7. Tony C.,
    It will be another let them eat cake moment from those who “knows what is best for us”!
    The truth hurts sometimes and this is one of those times.

  8. How sad that it takes a foreign judicial system to do what our own won’t.

    ‘Tis a sad day for the U.S.A. And if it’s not, it should be.

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