Spain’s Judge Garzon Orders Criminal Investigation of Six Bush Administration Officials
A quip that is often heard at gatherings international lawyers is “If I were [insert name of some prominent Bush Administration official], I wouldn’t plan on any more vacations in Europe.” Well, after all the talk of possible European prosecutions of one or more officials from the previous administration, the possibility has now taken a step closer towards becoming reality. CNN reports:
A senior Spanish judge has ordered prosecutors to investigate whether key Bush aides should be charged with crimes over the Guantanamo Bay detention center, a lawyer said Sunday.
Investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon has passed a 98-page complaint to prosecutors that accuses former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and five others [John C. Yoo, Douglas J. Feith, William J. Hayes II, Jay S. Bybee and David S. Addington] of being the legal architects of system that allowed torture in violation of international law, human rights lawyer Gonzalo Boye told CNN.
Prosecutors will review the document to determine if a crime has been committed.
The prosecutor’s office will make a decision within five days, said Boye, one of the report’s authors. Garzon accepted the complaint under Spanish law because there were several Spaniards at Guantanamo who allegedly suffered torture.
Judge Garzon is already familiar to many as the investigating magistrate who had issued the arrest warrant against Pinochet that started the extradition fracas.
That being said, it still remains to be seen whether prosecutors will actually move forward with a case. They may be reticent to do so if they think that issues of liability may be murky (that is, was this just bad legal advice or actual criminal activity) or if they want to avoid politically contentious issues (such as whether Spanish domestic courts are the right place to resolve the issues at hand).
Now, I know many of our readers have strong views as to whether those named above should or should not be prosecuted. I think those have been aired fairly well. What I’d like to ask–especially to any of our readers with some knowledge as to European courts–is whether you think the Spanish prosecutors are likely to pursue this case or not, and why. (Irrespective as to whether you think these folks should be prosecuted somewhere.) How accepted would it be that Spanish courts would have jurisdiction?