New York and Madrid, April 14, 2011 – Yesterday a Spanish judge chose to dismiss a politically charged case against six former Bush administration officials for their part in creating a legal framework that permitted the torture of detainees held in U.S. custody. Judge Eloy Velasco made his decision claiming the U.S. would conduct its own investigation, freeing Spain from the obligation of investigating under its universal jurisdiction law. He based this on a mere seven-page submission by the U.S. despite its clear statement that “the Department of Justice has concluded that it is not appropriate to bring criminal cases with respect to any other executive branch officials, including those named in the complaint, who acted in reliance on [Office of Legal Counsel] memoranda during the course of their involvement with the policies and procedures for detention and interrogation.”
In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Guantanamo detainees and other victims of the U.S. torture program and has been involved in the two cases in Spain, said, “This decision is a cowardly political act by a judge afraid to pursue justice under his country’s own laws. He is hiding behind the fig leaf of the U.S.’s scant seven-page response, but the submission made clear the U.S. has no intention of investigating these crimes or holding higher-level officials accountable for torture. As we saw from the WikiLeaks cables, the U.S. has been pressuring Spain to drop the case and interfering with the independence of judges. A second U.S. torture case remains open in Spain after a higher court ruled it should continue on February 25. Judge Velasco asked for opposing views but then issued his decision without even looking at our detailed submission refuting the U.S. claims. We will fight this decision and continue to demand accountability for torture.”
The Center has made numerous submissions in the case, as well as in the second U.S. torture case that remains open before a different Spanish court.
The named defendants in the case are torture memo authors Jay Bybee and John Yoo, and David Addington, Douglas Feith, William Haynes and Alberto Gonzales.
Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights issued a public response to the U.S. submission, available here
The U.S. submission is available here in English
and here in Spanish
A document summarizing the public response is available in English and Spanish on the CCR case page here
CCR and ECCHR have filed three joint expert opinions in the “Bush Six” case, including one setting out the legal framework for holding government lawyers, such as the defendants, liable for violations of international law, and two in which the groups detailed the Obama administration’s efforts to ensure impunity, not accountability, for former U.S. officials, including by exerting pressure on Spanish government officials to have these cases dismissed. Both organizations are also involved in a second criminal investigation pending in Spain related to the U.S. torture program, brought on behalf of released Guantánamo detainees. In January, CCR and ECCHR asked another Spanish judge to subpoena the former commanding officer at Guantánamo Bay, Geoffrey Miller, to explain his role in the torture of four former detainees.