Dharamsala, August 21 – China has rejected a judicial request for Chinese officials to be tried in Spanish court for “crimes against Tibetan people” and demanded that the Spanish government stop the investigation calling it a “false lawsuit”.
In its first written response to the lawsuits Chinese Embassy in Spain said Spain has violated the “the basic principles of state jurisdiction and immunity established by international law and is not covered by the Treaty on Judicial Assistance on Criminal Matters between China and Spain.”
China said it “firmly refuses any request for judicial assistance regarding this case, while demanding that Spain assumes her responsibilities regarding international law, adopts immediate and effective measures to prevent any violation of the Treaty on Judicial Assistance in Criminal Matters between China and Spain and puts a stop to said case as soon as possible." The Chinese Embassy in Madrid also returned the Rogatory Order issued by Spain's Ministry of Justice calling for the leaders to testify back to the court.
Spain's National Court, which handles crimes against humanity and genocide, accepted to hear a lawsuit filed by Tibet Support Groups on July 9 last year. It was admitted under the principle of "universal competence" adopted by the Spanish judiciary in 2005 and under which Spanish courts can hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity wherever they occur and whatever the nationality of the defendant.
Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz informed the Chinese Ministry of Justice on May 5 of rulings against eight Chinese leaders, including Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Zhang Qingli, in the Spanish High Court in connection with the Chinese government’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters since March 2008. Pedraz had requested China in May to question the defendants in China should they refuse to do so in Spain. A representative of the Chinese Embassy in Madrid, according to reliable sources in Madrid, is believed to have indicated in verbal exchanges with Spanish officials that Pedraz would be arrested if he visited China.
The Tibet lawsuits face threats from a resolution passed by Spain's Congress on May 19 to limit the jurisdiction of judges to cases in which there is a clear Spanish connection.
Despite the ruling and continuing pressure from China, Pedraz has recently announced the extension of one of the Tibet lawsuits to include an investigation into the Nangpala shooting of September 30, 2006, when 17-year old nun Kelsang Namtso was shot dead by Chinese border forces while attempting to cross the Tibetan border into Nepal.
Judge Pedraz asked the Indian government on July 14 for permission to travel to India in order to interview the Tibetan witnesses of the Nangpala shooting. American climber, Luiz Benitez, who witnessed Kelsang Namtso being fatally shot in the back as she and 74 other Tibetans including nuns, monks and children attempted to flee across the Nangpa la, gave evidence on July 17 to Judge Pedraz at Spain's High Court.
Suspects included in the lawsuit are Chinese Defence Minister Lian Guanglie, State Security Minister Geng Huichang and Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhm, Communist Party Secretary in Tibet Zhang Qingli, Politburo member Wang Lequan, Ethnic Affairs Commission head Li Dezhu, People's Liberation Army Commander in Lhasa General Tong Guishan and Zhang Guihua, political commissar in the Chengdu military command. Of them, Zhang Qingli, Wang Lequan and Li Dezhu have been reportedly associated as principal architects of Chinese repression in Tibet and other restive ethnic minorities.
Spain's National Court, which handles crimes against humanity and genocide, accepted to hear a lawsuit filed by Comité de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT) and Foundation Casa Del Tibet on August 5 last year, three days before the Beijing Olympics. It was admitted under the principle of "universal competence" adopted by the Spanish judiciary in 2005 and under which Spanish courts can hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity wherever they occur and whatever the nationality of the defendant.
Another National Court judge is currently investigating an alleged genocide in Tibet in the 1980s and 90s which was testified before it by three former Tibetan political prisoners, Palden Gyatso; Jampel Monlam and Bhagdro.
A Spanish lawyer Dr Jose Elias Esteve and Alan Cantos of Comité de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT)were in India in February last year to ask Tibetans to testify before the Spanish court after India refused to set up a Rogatory Commission that would allow the Tibetans to testify in India, according to a report by Asian Age dated February 17, 2008.