Spanish judge Baltazar Garzón announced April 29 he has decided to initiate an investigation into torture allegations at Guantánamo Bay made by four former prisoners held at the facility. Garzón 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.
Garzón 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 Garzón, 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, Garzón 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 Garzón’s earlier request for Spanish prosecutors to examine the US lawyers reportedly behind the establishment of the Guantánamo Bay detention center. Garzón’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, Garzón 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.