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Spain throws out probe into Chinese abuse in Tibet

February 28, 2010

By CIARAN GILES
The Washington Post
February 26, 2010

MADRID (AP) -- Spain's National Court has halted
a probe into alleged Chinese abuses in Tibet, the
first case to be ditched under a new law curbing
Madrid's jurisdiction over crimes committed abroad.

The complaint against China was filed in 2008,
more than a year before Spain's cross-border
justice law was trimmed by Parliament. But the
National Court said Friday the complaint still
must be thrown out because the new law requires
that cross-border cases have a clear link to Spain. The ruling can be appealed.

Since 2008 the court had been probing allegations
that two Chinese government ministers and five
other officials were responsible for repressing
protests against Chinese rule in Tibet before the Beijing Olympics.

It was acting on a suit filed by two Spanish
pro-Tibet rights groups which said the seven
officials were responsible for at least 203
deaths, more than 1,000 injured and nearly 6,000
illegal arrests and disappearances during the March protests.
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Spanish investigative magistrate Santiago Pedraz
said at the time that the court was entitled to
investigate under Spain's principle of universal
jurisdiction for cases dealing with charges such
as genocide and crimes against humanity,
regardless of where they were allegedly committed.

That legislation allowed judges like Baltasar
Garzon to prosecute egregious crimes committed in
other countries even if there was no link to Spain.

The practice irked some countries targeted in
probes by Spanish magistrates, particularly
Israel and China, and led to accusations that
Spain was behaving like a global policeman.

In response, the government reformed the law last
November specifying that in future such cases
could be undertaken only if there were Spanish
victims of the crime or the alleged perpetrators were in Spain.
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