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Spanish judge to quiz China officials over Tibet

Posted by Author on May 6, 2009

AFP, May 5, 2009 –

MADRID (AFP) — A Spanish judge said on Tuesday he intended to question eight Chinese leaders as official suspects in a case of genocide in connection with a crackdown on unrest that erupted in Tibet in March 2008.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz sent a letter to Chinese authorities formally requesting permission to travel to China to question the eight, including Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and Minister for State Security Geng Huichang.

“Given the cordial relations between our two respective countries, I hope that you will respond favourably to my request,” he wrote referring to a bilateral justice cooperation agreement signed in 2005, according to a court document obtained by AFP.

The suit was filed against the Chinese leaders in July 2008 by a Tibetan rights groups, the Tibet Support Committee, and accepted by the court the following month just days before the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

It “denounces the new wave of oppression that began in Tibet on 10th March 2008, and just goes to prove that acts of genocide continue to be committed against the Tibetan people”.

It also “denounces China’s manipulation of the global war against terrorism in its attempt to justify and cover up crimes against humanity committed against the Tibetan people”.

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 in turn accused the “rioters” of killing 21 people.

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

The judge said that if the accusations made in the complaint are proven, they would constitute crimes against humanity under Spanish law.

“The Tibetan population would appear to be a group that is persecuted by the cited authorities for political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or other motives universally recognised as unacceptable under international law,” he wrote.

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.

Other Chinese officials named in the suit were 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, Public Security Minister Meg Jianzhu and Zhang Guihua, political commissar in the Chengdu military command.

The suit against the eight is an extension to another complaint filed by the Tibet Support Committee in 2006.

That suit accuses Chinese leaders, including former president Jiang Zemin and former prime minister Li Peng, of torture and crimes against humanity as well as genocide allegedly carried out in Tibet during the 1980s.

The National Court has been hearing that case since June 2006.

Beijing has condemned the accusations of genocide in Tibet as slander and it has accused Madrid of trying to interfere in its administration of the Buddhist Himalayan region.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to “liberate” the remote region.

AFP

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