Spain Orders Arrest of Chinese Officials Over Tibet

Spain Orders Arrest of Chinese Officials Over Tibet

Spain’s National Court has ordered the arrest of five former high-level Chinese officials, including ex-president Jiang Zemin and ex-premier Li Peng, for their roles in the alleged genocide in Tibet. AP reports:

Spain’s National Court on Tuesday issued arrest orders for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four other officials as part of a probe into alleged genocide by China against Tibet.

The court said it accepted arguments from Spanish pro-Tibet rights groups that international reports indicate the five may have had a role in the alleged genocide and should be questioned.

The five also include former prime minister Li Peng; former security and police chief Qiao Shi; Chen Kuiyan, a former Communist Party official in Tibet; and Pen Pelyun, ex-family planning minister. None has been formally charged.

China has previously described the investigation as interference in its affairs and called the claims “sheer fabrication.” [Source]

The court also seeks to bring former president Hu Jintao in for questioning. From Voice of America:

The court indicted another former Chinese president, Hu Jintao, in connection with the genocide case on October 9. That move prompted China’s foreign ministry to denounce what it called an attempt to “interfere” in Beijing’s “internal affairs.”

[…]In a statement sent to VOA, the Tibet Support Committee said the Spanish National Court issued a second document on Monday, saying it is formally notifying Hu of the indictment and wants him to answer questions about actions in Tibet. The court has not said whether it seeks Hu’s arrest.

The former president served as Communist Party chief of the Tibetan Autonomous Region from 1988 to 1992 and later as Chinese head of state from 2003 to 2013. [Source]

The Diplomat’s Justin McDonnell sums up the history and jurisdiction of the Spanish National Court, noting the unlikeliness of indicted former leaders standing trial in Spain:

Spain has given its National Court universal jurisdiction for cases involving war crimes and other serious violations of international law like crimes against humanity and genocide. Established in 1977, the National Court has pursued cases under universal jurisdiction ever since it issued an international warrant for former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Salvador Allende and oversaw a regime that murdered thousands during his 17-year presidency.   Pinochet was detained in London for almost two years until UK home secretary Jack Straw ordered his release on medical grounds, allowing him to travel back home to Chile.

Since then, Madrid has investigated mass killings by the Francoist dictatorship, and indicted Rwandan officials linked to the 1994 genocide, former Nazi guards, Israelis involved in Gaza bombings, and Salvadoran ex-soldiers for the murder of Jesuit priests during the civil war. Once considered to have the broadest universal jurisdiction in the world, in 2009 the government restricted the courts to cases where the victims were Spanish citizens. The Spanish legal system allowed the suit against Mr. Hu to be heard because one of the plaintiffs, Buddhist monk Thubten Wangchen is a Spanish citizen.

The majority of jurisdiction cases have not resulted in convictions and it is virtually unthinkable China’s indicted leaders will be extradited and forced to defend themselves before a Spanish court. [Source]


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