[JURIST] Spanish National Court judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will begin an inquiry into the suspected torture and ill-treatment of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], Spanish media reported [El Pais report] Saturday. The inquiry follows claims made by several Spanish groups – including the Association for the Dignity of Prisoners of Spain, the Free Association of Lawyers, the United Left and the Human Rights Association of Spain [advocacy websites, in Spanish] – about alleged torture, abuse, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees at the facility. The Obama administration has not responded to Garzon's questions regarding the open investigation of detainee abuses at the facility. Garzon's inquiry has focused on Spanish citizen and ex-Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Abderraman Hamed [CNN report], and three others who Garzon has stated have significant connections with Spain. The domestic focus is due to new Spanish laws on the exercise of universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] passed [JURIST report] by Spain's parliament in November. The new law limits the use of universal jurisdiction to offenses committed by or against Spaniards, or where the perpetrators are in Spain.
Garzon has been known for using universal jurisdiction extensively in the past to bring several high-profile cases, including those against Osama bin Laden and former Latin American dictator Augusto Pinochet [JURIST news archives]. In March, he asked prosecutors to examine [JURIST report] the US lawyers reportedly behind the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, including David Addington, John Yoo [JURIST news archive], and former attorney general Alberto Gonzales [BBC profile]. The case was reassigned [JURIST report] to another judge the following month. The continued inquiry comes as US President Barack Obama prepares to close the detention facility. It was reported [JURIST report] earlier this month that 35 Guantanamo detainees now face trial or military commissions, adding to the five detainees that are already scheduled to be tried in New York for the 9/11 attacks and six detainees who have been chosen to face military tribunals [JURIST reports].