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Spain should extradite ex-Nazi officers for war crimes trial: rights group

[JURIST] Rights group Equipo Nizkor [advocacy website] has petitioned Spain's National Court [press release, in Spanish; Human Rights Blog backgrounder] to extradite and try four former Nazi officers for alleged war crimes committed during WWII, a group lawyer said Tuesday. The suit was brought on behalf of a concentration camp survivor and families of three who died at the camp. Under Spanish law, the country's courts can exercise universal jurisdiction [HRW backgrounder] to try those suspected of genocide and other serious human rights offenses even if they occur abroad. The four named in the suit, Johann Leprich [DOJ press release], Anton Tittjung [AP report], Josias Kumpf [DOJ press release] and John Demjanjuk [JURIST news archive], are currently in the US under deportation orders. AP has more.

If the petition is granted, it will not be the first time Spain has exercised jurisdiction for crimes committed outside its borders. In January 2006, Spain indicted [JURIST report] former Argentinean naval officer Ricardo Miguel Cavallo [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] for crimes he allegedly committed during Argentina's 1976-83 "Dirty War" [Global Security backgrounder; JURIST news archive], before dropping the charges and sending him back to Argentina [JURIST reports] to face trial there. In May 2007, a Spanish judge upheld arrest warrants [JURIST report] issued against three US soldiers accused of a "crime against the international community" in the 2004 death in Iraq of cameraman Jose Couso [advocacy website, in English; JURIST news archive] but the US has refused to extradite the three.

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