Wed, Jul 08, 2009 - Page 6 News List

PRC asks Spain to stop inquiry

AFP , MADRID

China has asked Madrid to take steps to ensure that a Spanish court drops its probe into a crackdown on unrest that erupted in Tibet against Chinese rule in March last year, a court document showed on Monday.

In a document sent by Chinese authorities to the Spanish National Court, which was released on Monday, Beijing officials turned down a request by a judge to question eight Chinese leaders, including Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (梁光烈), as part of the probe.

In the document, the Chinese authorities called on the Spanish government to take “immediate and effective steps to prevent any abusive use of a mutual justice cooperation agreement and close as soon as possible this inquiry.”

A Tibetan rights group, the Tibet Support Committee, filed the suit against the Chinese leaders last July, calling the crackdown on the unrest “crimes against humanity.”

It was accepted by the National Court the following month, just days before the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

Unrest in Tibet erupted on March 14 last year after four days of peaceful protests against Chinese rule.

The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt in China’s crackdown. Beijing insists that only one Tibetan was killed and has accused “rioters” of killing 21 people.

The crackdown sparked international protests that dogged the month-long global journey of the Olympic torch in April.

Spain has since 2005 operated under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” a doctrine that allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture, terrorism or war crimes.

Last week the National Court closed a probe targeting Israeli officials for alleged crimes against humanity over a deadly 2002 air raid in Gaza that was accepted under this principle.

In that case the court said it was following the recommendations of prosecutors in deciding to close the case.

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