Torture Case Against Rumsfeld Has Been Dropped by German Prosecutor; Case Will Be Refiled In Spain

Brian Zick

UPI reports: A German prosecutor has dropped a torture case against ex-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (…) Attorneys for the plaintiffs said Friday that they are considering an appeal of the decision and may file similar cases in other countries, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based non-profit legal and education organization involved with the case. "Fundamentally, this is a political and not a legal decision," said CCR President Michael Ratner. "We will continue to pursue Rumsfeld, (U.S. Attorney General Alberto) Gonzales, and the others in the future -- they should not feel they can travel outside the United States without risk. Our goal is no safe haven for torturers." Berlin attorney Wolfgang Kaleck filed the 400-page complaint against Rumsfeld, Gonzales, former CIA Director George Tenet and other high-ranking U.S. officials in November 2006. The plaintiffs, who include 12 Iraqi citizens previously held in Abu Ghraib prison and a Saudi citizen currently detained at Guantanamo Bay and numerous international human rights groups, accused the defendants of torture and other war crimes committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. In her decision, German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms argued that the case does not confront crimes committed on German soil, nor involve victims or perpetrators with ties to Germany. Harms also stated that the investigation does not have a reasonable chance of succeeding. The case was filed in Germany because of the country's obligation under the German law of universal jurisdiction to try cases that deal with torture and other serious crimes, regardless of where the crime took place or what the nationality of the victims or perpetrators. Joshua Pantesco for Jurist (at University of Pittsburgh) reports: German lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck says that he will refile a war crimes complaint against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Spain with the help of Spanish counterparts after the German Federal Prosecutor's office Friday rejected a bid to prosecute the suit in Germany under that country's universal jurisdiction law, according to a report published Saturday in Der Spiegel. Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms said that the case did not have a sufficient connection to Germany to warrant exercise of her legal discretion, noting that the alleged crimes were committed outside of Germany, the defendants do not reside in Germany, they are not currently located in Germany, and it is not anticipated they will soon enter German territory. Spain passed a universal jurisdiction law of its own in 1985, invoking it most famously in the case of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Via Jeralyn at Talk Left.

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