Garzón’s Guantánamo investigation reopened

January 14, 2012

Garzón’s successor at Spain’s National Criminal Court, Judge Pablo Ruz, has sent the prosecutor a 19-page brief reactivating the investigation of human rights abuses and war crimes at the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, El País reports. Given the lack of judicial action on the part of the US and British authorities, Ruz argues that his court has jurisdiction to pursue the case against Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, among others. Judge Ruz “said he would seek additional information — medical data, a translation of a Human Rights Watch report, elaboration on material made public by WikiLeaks, and testimony from three senior U.S. military officers who served at Guantanamo — in the case of four released Guantanamo captives who allege they were humiliated and subjected to torture while in U.S. custody,” Carol Rosenberg writes for the Miami Herald,

Ruz said, however, that it would be premature to notify the former U.S. officials named in the former detainees’ complaint that they are under investigation. Those officials include former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and two former Guantanamo commanders, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert and retired Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller. Ruz said the complaint had yet to tie any of them to specific acts. He said he would ask Spanish prosecutors to determine who in the United States should be informed of the probe so that they could offer exculpatory evidence. … Ruz ruled that under international law the United States has no right to declare itself immune from international prohibitions against torture “even in times of war or the fight against terrorism.” He also rejected U.S. claims that Guantanamo detainees had no right to protection under the Geneva conventions. The roots of the Spanish torture case, in a twist, were a request from the Bush administration that Spain prosecute Spanish detainee Lahcen Ikassrien on terror charges upon his release from Guantanamo. Spain did and initially found him guilty. But Spain’s high court threw out that case, saying his statements while being interrogated at Guantanamo were unreliable because he had been tortured. … The Spanish judge said he decided to proceed with the case because the United States had never responded to a July 2009 question from the Spanish government about whether an investigation would be launched into the allegations.

More here.