Moral Outrage
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Spain bows to international pressure to change law

Reuters reports that Spanish judges who tried to extradite ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and investigate Bush administration officials over Guantanamo will likely be barred from doing so again after a parliamentary vote on Tuesday.

Spain’s Socialist government said earlier this year it would change the law after protests from Israel over the High Court’s decision in January to launch a war crimes probe into seven Israelis including former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for a 2002 attack in the Gaza Strip that killed 14 civilians and a Hamas leader.

Under pressure from foreign governments, members of Spain’s congress passed a resolution that would restrict Spain, which had been praised by international campaigners, to only investigating cases in which the accused is in Spain or Spaniards are victims.

The vote is the first step in formally changing a law which was used by Judge Baltazar Garzon to request Pinochet’s arrest and extradition from Britain in 1998.

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3 Responses to “Spain bows to international pressure to change law”

  1. […] been covering the investigation being done by Judge Baltasar Garzon in Spain into the Bush torture system. What’s interesting is that the most aggressive investigation at […]

  2. The official story is that Spain decided not to prosecute Bush’s torture lawyers. Yet the known facts suggest something else entirely.
    1-We know that the prosecutor who initiated this effort, Judge Baltazar Garzon, wants to prosecute Bush. He and his colleagues see targeting the lawyers first as a step in Bush’s direction and more likely to move forward than a case that starts at the top.
    2-We know that Spain and the Obama administration had been communicating about this case.
    3-We know that the White House’s press secretary was asked about those communications and avoided answering the question at all, rather than simply going with the story already reported that the U.S. was just observing and “gathering information.”
    4-We know that the Obama Administration wants to “move forward,” and does not want to prosecute Bush.
    5-We know that the top law enforcement official in Spain made an argument for dismissing the case against the lawyers that an 8 year old would spot as an illegal absurdity.
    6-We know that the rightwing was preparing big attacks on Obama for allowing Spain to proceed, and that the official “left” was not going to cover his back.

    These facts are at least extremely suggestive of a less than independent decision by the Spanish.

    P.S. – In the Pinochet case Garzon proceeded despite the opposition of the Attorney General, but in this case there is a move to take Garzon off the case.

  3. Recently, WikiLeaks revealed that 3 months into Barack Obama’s presidency, the administration turned to a Florida senator to deliver a sensitive message to Spain:

    “Don’t indict former President George W. Bush’s legal brain trust for alleged torture in the treatment of war on terror detainees,” warned Mel Martinez on one of his frequent trips to Madrid. “Doing so would chill U.S.-Spanish relations.”

    The episode, revealed in a raft of WikiLeaks cables, was part of a secret concerted U.S. effort to stop a crusading Spanish judge from investigating a torture complaint against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five other senior Bush lawyers.

    Garzón, the activist judge, has been suspended for allegedly overstepping his authority in another crimes against humanity case, this one on home turf: The execution or disappearance of more than 100,000 civilians during the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco.


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