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Spain court to hear appeal in probe of ex-China president

Spain's National Court [official website] accepted an appeal by two Spanish pro-Tibet rights groups to include former Chinese president Hu Jintao [BBC profile] in an investigation of alleged genocide against Tibetans. In accepting the appeal, the court ruled [BBC report] that Spain was competent to handle the case because one of the activists, Tibetan monk Thubten Wangchen, is a Spanish citizen. Though the issue is a Chinese matter, the Spanish legal system recognizes the universal justice principle, allowing genocide suspects to be put on trial [AP report] outside their home countries. Former president Jiang Zemin and six other Chinese officials are already under investigation, although they have yet to be formally charged. The Madrid-based Tibetan Support Committee [advocacy website] alleges that Hu was ultimately responsible for actions amounting to genocide by imposing martial law, carrying out forced deportations, mass sterilization campaigns and torture of dissidents.

In July 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that Chinese authorities used excessive force in responding to the 2008 Tibetan demonstrations [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The UN has expressed concern over the ongoing restrictions on Tibet, as well as the detention and disappearance of Tibetan monks [JURIST reports]. In March 2009 HRW reported [JURIST report] that the Chinese government has not accounted for hundreds of Tibetan protesters arrested in connection with the March 2008 demonstrations, revealing a thorough review regarding the numbers of arrests, detentions and trials of the protesters. There were allegedly several hundred protesters still in custody and documents have revealed that, contrary to information supplied by the Chinese government, several demonstrators died after the March 2008 demonstrations. In June 2008 the Chinese government released more than 1000 demonstrators [JURIST report] detained by authorities during the demonstrations against Chinese rule in Tibet, two days after Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called on [JURIST report] China to free all detainees who engaged in peaceful protest.

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