Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Former US officials could be tried by a Spanish court


A Spanish court has agreed to consider opening a criminal case against six officials from the administration of former US president George W. Bush, including former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, over allegations they gave legal cover for torture, a lawyer in the case said.

Human rights lawyers brought the case before leading anti-負error judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send it on to prosecutors to decide whether it had merit, Gonzalo Boye, one of the lawyers who brought the charges, said on Saturday.

The former Bush administration officials are Gonzales; former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; former vice president Dick Cheney? chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes.

?he charges as related to me make no sense,?Feith said on Saturday. ?hey criticize me for promoting a controverial position that I never advocated.?br />

Yoo declined to comment. A message left at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, where Bybee is now a judge, was not immediately returned. A message left at Chevron Corp in San Ramon, California, where Haynes reportedly works as an attorney, was not immediately returned.

Spanish law allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes under a doctrine of universal justice, though the government has recently said it hopes to limit the scope of the legal process.

Garzon became famous for bringing charges against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, and he and other Spanish judges have agreed to investigate alleged abuses everywhere from Tibet to Argentina? ?irty war.?br />

Still, the country? record in prosecuting such cases has been spotty, with only one suspect extradited to Spain so far.

When a similar case was brought against Israeli officials earlier this year, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos assured his Israeli counterpart that the process would be quashed.

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