Spanish judge opens investigation into Gitmo torture claims

Spanish judge Baltazar Garz贸n announced April 29 he has decided to initiate an investigation into torture allegations at Guant谩namo Bay made by four former prisoners held at the facility. Garz贸n said he based his decision on statements from Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Lahcen Ikassrien, Jamiel Abdul Latiff Al Banna, and Omar Deghayes, who claim they were subject to various forms of physical and mental abuse during their imprisonment.

Garz贸n also said that recently released CIA interrogation memos detailed what had been previously suspected, a plan which authorized the systematic torture and mistreatment of persons who were deprived the basic rights of detainees. According to Garz贸n, the alleged abuse violates the Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and other international treaties. Additionally, Garz贸n said the investigation is authorized under Spain’s concept of universal jurisdiction, which allows a Spanish court to pursue certain types of cases, such as torture, outside its national borders, but only when legal action has not already commenced within the other country involved.

The investigation is unrelated to Garz贸n’s earlier request for Spanish prosecutors to examine the US lawyers reportedly behind the establishment of the Guant谩namo Bay detention center. Garz贸n’s request came after a criminal complaint was filed in the Audiencia Nacional against six lawyers from the administration of former US president George W. Bush, including David Addington, John Yoo, and former attorney general Alberto Gonzales. Earlier this month Spanish prosecutors announced that they would not recommend trying any of the named defendants because they had not committed acts of torture. Last week, Garz贸n was replaced in the investigation by Eloy Velasco after he recommended that the provisional case of whether to pursue legal action be assigned to an investigating magistrate. (Jurist, April 30)

See our last posts on Gitmo and the torture scandal.

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