For Immediate Release
CCR Applauds Spanish Judge’s Decision to Open New Criminal Investigation Into US Torture Program
Human Rights Group with Multiple Cases Against Bush Officials Calls on Obama Administration to Appoint Special Prosecutor in U.S.
NEW YORK - The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents many of
the men detained by the U.S. government at Guantánamo, praised Spanish
judge Baltazar Garzon's decision today to pursue a new criminal
investigation into the torture conspiracy and the torture program at
the base where five Spanish nationals were tortured and abused. and
abuse of five men at the base.
The writ did not name specific officials as defendants but speaks of
investigating the roles of those responsible for authorizing, planning
and executing the torture program, particularly in light of the newly
release torture memos and the Senate Armed Services Committee report.
The case could lead to arrest warrants in Europe and, according to CCR
attorneys, places new pressure on the Obama administration to appoint
its own special prosecutor to investigate the crimes committed by
Last month, Spain moved to begin criminal investigation into the role
of six Bush administration lawyers responsible for creating the legal
justification and framework for the torture program. The brief history
of that case is as follows: Judge Garzon accepted the initial
complaint; the Spanish prosecutors were set to recommend pursuing it;
in an effort to stop the case, the Spanish attorney general intervened
to recommend against it; a lottery reassigned the lawyers case to Judge
Eloy Velasco, who now has the authority to decide whether to open the
CCR attorneys hailed the decision as an important step in holding these
officials and others accountable for their crimes. The new case could
also include the lawyers and may well lead to investigations of top
officials, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
Spain, like many other countries in Europe, has a special interest in
these cases since five of its citizens and residents were tortured or
abused at Guantanamo. The Spanish link to the case is strong: four of
the Spanish nationals who were tortured have intervened in the case.
They currently live in Spain, which gives extra legitimacy to the
investigation and jurisdiction of the judge. These cases can lead to
arrest warrants being issued that could apply throughout Europe. CCR
expressed hope that other countries in Europe whose citizens and
residents were subjected to torture and cruel treatment at Guantanamo
and elsewhere will likewise initiate such investigations.
CCR President Michael Ratner and Executive Director Vincent Warren are available for comment.
Michael Ratner, author of the book, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld
and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, "The
torture conspirators are in deep trouble. Even if the U.S. fails in
its obligation to criminally investigate, Spain will. The conspirators
can run, but they can't hide. It is conceivable that arrest warrants
have already been issued or will be soon. Indictments will almost
surely follow. The torture team's travel options are narrowing." For
more information on the book, click here.
CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren said, "The Obama administration
should not need pressure from abroad to uphold our own laws and
initiate a criminal investigation in the U.S., but I hope the Spanish
cases will impress on the president and Attorney General Eric Holder
how seriously the rest of the world takes these crimes and show them
the issue will not go away."
Since the first days of the public revelations regarding the Bush
administration's torture program, the Center for Constitutional Rights
has made efforts to hold high level officials and their lawyers
accountable for their crimes. CCR, along with the European Center for
Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the International
Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), has tried three times, twice in
Germany and once in France, to bring criminal cases in Europe against
former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and former White House Counsel/Former
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as well as many of the other lawyers
and officials who were part of the conspiracy that authorized the
torture program in Guantanamo, Iraq, secret CIA sites, and elsewhere.
Ten other co-plaintiffs signed on to the case in Germany, including the
National Lawyers' Guild (NLG), European Democratic Jurists , and
Veterans for Peace. The German case is still pending. CCR also has
torture cases representing former Guantánamo detainees pending in U.S.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.