Spain may legislate to limit universal jurisdiction: Israel foreign minister

[JURIST] Spanish foreign minister Miguel Moratinos [official profile] has said he will push for legislation limiting the country's universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder] policies to prevent the investigation of Israeli officials, according to Friday statements [Ynet report] by Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni [official profile]. The pledge follows a decision by Spanish judge Fernando Andreu [JURIST news archive] to issue an order [PDF text, in Spanish] opening an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in a 2002 Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip [El Pais report, in Spanish; JURIST report]. Spanish vice-president Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega [official profile, in Spanish; Euroresidents profile] also said Friday, however, that the country's courts are independent of politics, and the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation [official website] has yet to make any official announcement confirming Moratinos' comment. Israel is cooperating with the investigation, and recently turned over documents relating to the 2002 attack [El Pais report].

The investigation concerns the 2002 bombing of former Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh's home in Gaza City that killed 15 people [NYT report], including Shehadeh and his family. Israel has heavily criticized [Haaretz report] Article 23.4 [UN backgrounder] of the Judicial Power Organization Act, which allows Spanish courts to prosecute people outside of Spain for war crimes, even when no Spanish citizens are involved. Spanish courts have attempted to use the principle of universal jurisdiction in several other international cases, including allegations of war crimes and genocide in Rwanda, Tibet, Guatemala, Chile, and China [JURIST reports].



 

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