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Spanish court shelves Tibet human rights case against China
DPA[Friday, February 26, 2010 20:58]

Madrid - A judge at Spain's National Court said Friday that he had shelved an inquiry into alleged human rights violations by China in Tibet. Judge Santiago Pedraz said the court could no longer handle the case after a new law restricted its powers to investigate human rights cases abroad.

Pedraz had earlier accepted a request to investigate a complaint lodged by several Tibet support groups, which accused China of a "generalized and systematic attack" against the Tibetan population following riots in March 2008.

The repression led to the deaths of about 200 people and to the disappearances of nearly 6,000, while 1,000 people were seriously injured, according to the complaint.

Pedraz had planned to question eight Chinese political and military leaders, including three ministers, about the case.

But a law passed in 2009 restricts Spanish human rights investigations to cases involving Spanish victims, suspects who are in Spain, or some other obvious link with Spain. That was not the case with the Tibet complaint, Pedraz observed.

China's annoyance over the case was regarded by observers as one of the reasons behind the changing of the law.

The National Court's eagerness to probe human rights cases abroad also caused tension with other countries, including Israel.

The court has investigated a string of alleged human rights abuses in Latin America, Africa, the United States, Asia and Europe, arguing they fell under universal jurisdiction.

The Spanish judiciary first became known for its interest in issues of universal justice when National Court judge Baltasar Garzon made a vain attempt to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from London in 1998.
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