Judge Garzón prosecutes Bush lawyers over torture claims
A SPANISH court has launched an investigation into torture allegations against US military personnel at the Guantánamo detention centre.
Superjudge Baltazar Garzon is prosecuting six Bush administration lawyers for their roles in advising on interrogation techniques.
It is likely that new president Barack Obama may cooperate with the Spanish investigation.
Garzón said he would investigate allegations made by four detainees who were held at the centre and later released without charges, according to a court document quoted by the Spanish press.
The torture allegations include “sexual abuse”, “beating” and the throwing of fluids into prisoners’ eyes.
A recent decision by the Obama administration to release documents about Guantánamo helped the judge conclude that a police investigation, which could lead to criminal charges, was necessary.
The Spanish investigation was sparked by torture complaints from former Guantánamo detainees Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Lahcen Ikassrien, Jamiel Abdul Latif al Banna and Omar Deghayes.
The four men, who had terrorism allegations made against them in Spain dropped by the courts, told the judge that they had been tortured “under the authority of US Army personnel”.
Judge Garzón reportedly cited “documents declassified by the US administration” as giving evidence “of what previously could be intuited: an official plan of approved torture and abuse of people being held in custody while facing no charges and without the most basic rights of people who have been detained.”
There was evidence that the torture allegations could bring criminal proceedings against “the different structures [involved in] the execution, command, design and authorisation of this systematic plan of torture”.
Garzón’s investigation is parallel to a separate case in which a fellow magistrate, Eloy Velasco, must decide whether the National Court can pursue a criminal investigation against six senior US officials for allegedly approving the use of torture.
Garzón has previously used international human rights laws to bring torturers from the Argentinian military dictatorships to trial in Madrid, with military officers from Argentina being found guilty and sent to Spanish jails.