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Guatemala abuses may be tried in Spain, court rules

[JURIST] Spain's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that thousands of alleged killings and kidnappings committed during Guatemala's civil war [BBC News timeline] may be tried by Spanish courts. The court ruling opened up the country's tribunals to hear genocide cases, even if they do not involve Spanish citizens. The court concluded that universal jurisdiction outweighed national interests in cases of genocide. Nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchu [Nobel profile] has pursued the case in Spanish courts. Although the Supreme Court rejected the challenge narrowly in 2003, the Constitutional Court held that the ruling violated Menchu's rights. A Spanish court convicted a former Argentine naval officer [JURIST report] earlier this year for war crimes committed during military rule although no Spanish citizens were involved. Other countries have used universal jurisdiction to try those accused of war crimes, including Belgium, which last week issued an international arrest warrant [JURIST report] for a former Chad leader. BBC News has more.

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