Thursday, April 16, 2009

Torture Lawyers' vacation plans back on?

Contrary to earlier reports, Spain seems unlikely to indict Yoo, Bybee, et al.:
Spain's attorney general has rejected opening an investigation into whether six Bush administration officials sanctioned torture against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, saying Thursday a U.S. courtroom would be the proper forum.

Candido Conde-Pumpido's remarks severely dampen the chance of a case moving forward against the Americans, including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Conde-Pumpido said such a trial would have turned Spain's National Court "into a plaything" to be used for political ends.

"If there is a reason to file a complaint against these people, it should be done before local courts with jurisdiction, in other words in the United States," he said in a breakfast meeting with journalists.
Not sure how this fits with the fact that Spanish nationals are said to've been victims at Gitmo, but then, it seems that the wonderfully-named Candido Conde-Pumpido has motives beyond the merely legal:
[The proposed indictment] alleged that the men — who have become known as "The Bush Six" — cleared the path for torture by claiming in advice and legal opinions that the president could ignore the Geneva Conventions, and by adopting an overly narrow definition of which interrogation techniques constituted torture.

But Conde-Pumpido rejected that argument, saying the case had no merit because the men did not themselves commit the alleged abuses.

"If one is dealing with a crime of mistreatment of prisoners of war, the complaint should go against those who physically carried it out," Conde-Pumpido said.

Gonzalo Boye, one of the human rights lawyers who brought the case in Spain, said the decision by Conde-Pumpido was politically motivated and set a terrible course for Spanish justice.

"The attorney general speaks of the court being turned into a plaything. Well, I don't think the attorney general's office should be turned into a plaything for politicians," Boye told AP. "It is a terrible precedent if those intellectually responsible for crimes can no longer be held accountable."
Conde-Pumpido's votes at Nuremberg, had he been a judge there, can presumably be inferred. Goering didn't kill any Jews, after all.

Presumably this is the result of some phone calls from Washington to Madrid. I'll be curious to see whether the release of further memos has any effect on Spain, or provokes any other prosecutors to get frisky.

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