January 11, 2006

Tibet: Court to rule on Tibetan Genocide

Spain's High Court will investigate whether seven former Chinese leaders committed genocide in Tibet, after Madrid's top court ruled Spanish courts could try genocide cases even if they did not involve Spaniards
Spain's High Court will investigate whether seven former Chinese leaders committed genocide in Tibet, after Madrid's top court ruled Spanish courts could try genocide cases even if they did not involve Spaniards.

The criminal suit, filed by three Tibet support groups, was thrown out last September by a lower court but shortly afterwards Spain's Constitutional Court made the ruling on foreign genocide cases and the groups appealed.

The High Court said in an official document overnight it would investigate the genocide accusations against former President Jiang Zemin, former Prime Minister Li Peng, former party chiefs in Tibet Ren Rong, Yin Fatang and Chen Kuiyan, former security chief Qiao Shi and former Family Planning Minister Deng Delyun.

The case accuses the top officials, who were in office during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, of authorising massacres and torture in Tibet. The court could call for Chinese authorities to arrest those accused and even impound their property.

No one at the Chinese embassy in Madrid was available to comment on the suit.

"We have been working for almost nine years to do this well to present all the evidence properly and in line with the law and we are ... very happy and excited that this first path towards justice in Tibet is opening up," Alan Cantos, Spanish president of the Tibet Support Committee, said on state radio.

China sent troops to impose its rule on Tibet in 1950 and after a failed uprising nine years later, Tibet's Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to exile in India.

From there the government-in-exile of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama – who said recently China's policies were very repressive – is seeking greater autonomy from China, which calls the 1950 invasion a liberation.

The ruling from Spain's top court on international crimes also prompted the Falun Gong spiritual movement to file a genocide suit against Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai late last year.

Before the ruling, serious crimes committed abroad could be tried in Spain, but only if the victims were Spaniards.

That led to high profile cases such as Judge Baltasar Garzon's failed efforts to bring former Chilean dictator President Augusto Pinochet to trial while last year the High Court sentenced a former Argentine navy captain to 640 years in jail for crimes.

Source: The Australian

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