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Spanish Judge to Probe Guantanamo Torture Claims

MADRID - Spain's top investigating judge Baltasar Garzon is to probe suspected torture and ill-treatment of inmates at the US prison of Guantanamo Bay, a judical source said Saturday.

Spain's top investigating judge Baltasar Garzon, pictured in 2009, is to probe suspected torture and ill-treatment of inmates at the US prison of Guantanamo Bay, a judical source said Saturday. The judge will be acting on complaints lodged by a number of associations, focussing on one prisoner, Ahmed Abderraman Hamed, who has Spanish nationality, the source added, confirming a report published in daily El Pais

Three other detainees, Moroccan Lahcen Ikasrrien, Palestinian Jamiel Abdulatif al-Banna and Libyan Omar Deghayes would also be concerned as they had links with Spain.

In 2005 Spain declared itself competent to investigate any crime committed abroad, but after diplomatic problems the scope of the inquiries was reduced in 2009.

Spanish courts can now deal only with cases that have a clear link with Spain, or cases that are not being investigated in countries where the offences are alleged to have been committed.

El Pais said Washington had not replied to a request made seven months ago from Madrid as to whether it was investigating the allegations now being taken up by Garzon, who is best-known internationally for his pursuit of Latin American dictators.

The Palestinian Authority's foreign minister Riyad al Malky said in Madrid last week that Spain had agreed to accept a Palestinian Guantanamo Bay detainee.

The unnamed man will be transferred to Spain in early February along with another man whose nationality has not been confirmed, according to press reports quoting Spanish diplomatic sources.

The US detention camp in Cuba was set up to hold foreigners captured after US-led forces invaded Afghanistan to root out al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 against the United States.

In one of his first acts in office, US President Barack Obama set a one-year deadline for shutting the prison and the United States has started to slowly empty it of detainees.

Garzon, 54, was thrust into the international limelight in 1998 with his attempt to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet from Britain on charges of torture and genocide.

He has also investigated suspected drug lords, arms traffickers and terrorists and indicted Osama bin Laden on charges of terrorism, including the September 11 attacks in the United States.

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