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Spain court suspends investigation into 2002 Israel bombing of Gaza Strip

[JURIST] A panel for Spain's National Court [CJA backgrounder] on Tuesday ordered an end to the investigation [JURIST report] of alleged crimes against humanity committed by Israel in a 2002 attack on the Gaza Strip [NYT backgrounder]. The court reversed a May order [order, PDF, in Spanish; JURIST report] by judge Fernando Andreu [JURIST news archive] to continue the investigation despite legal challenges. The court sided with prosecutors [El Pais report] who argued that the court lacked jurisdiction because Israel has already investigated the incident. Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] praised the ruling, but the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights [official website], which brought the suit, said it planned to appeal [press release] the decision to Spain's Supreme Court.

Last week, the Spanish Congress of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] voted 341-2 [press release, in Spanish; JURIST report] to limit use of the country's universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] statute to those offenses committed by or against Spaniards, or where the perpetrators are in Spain. The doctrine had allowed courts to hear cases such as that against Israel, and its amendment would not change the status of cases brought before its passage. Earlier this month, human rights groups urged [JURIST report] the Spanish government to continue the broad exercise of universal jurisdiction, but Israel [Haaretz report], has long called for [JURIST report] for changes to the practice. Universal jurisdiction has also been invoked by prominent Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon [JURIST news archive] to bring several high-profile cases, including those against Osama bin Laden and former Latin American dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archives].

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