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Spanish Court Seeks Arrest of Former Chinese Leaders in Tibet Case



Spain's National Court has issued arrest warrants for former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and four other officials on suspicion of involvement in alleged genocide in Tibet.

VOA obtained a copy of the ruling from the Madrid-based court from one of the plaintiffs on Tuesday. The document, issued a day earlier, called for the arrest of former Chinese President Jiang and the other officials to enable authorities to question them about the genocide allegations.

The plaintiff that provided the document is a Spanish group that advocates for the rights of Tibetans in China.

China had no immediate comment on the Spanish court's action. 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."

The Tibet Support Committee (Comite de Apoyo Al Tibet) filed suit against the former Chinese leaders in Spain because the European country enables its courts to prosecute alleged war crimes and genocide committed anywhere, provided the victims include Spanish citizens.

One of the co-plaintiffs is a Tibetan Buddhist monk with Spanish citizenship, Thubten Wangchen.

The other Chinese officials named in the arrest order include former prime minister Li Peng, former security chief Qiao Shi, former Communist Party official Chen Kuiyan and former family planning minister Pen Pelyun.

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 Mr. Hu of the indictment and wants him to answer questions about actions in Tibet. The court has not said whether it seeks Mr. 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.

The region has been under the control of the Chinese Communist government in Beijing since 1950.

Many Tibetans accuse the Chinese government of repressing their religion and culture. China says Tibetans enjoy religious freedom and benefit from better living standards linked to Chinese investment in underdeveloped Tibetan regions.

The Tibet Support Committee welcomed the latest moves by the Spanish court as a hopeful sign for what it called "Tibetan victims of (Chinese) occupation and repression." It said the action also is good for the "health of the Spanish judicial system and the separation of powers in our democracy."

Spain's policy of granting universal jurisdiction to its courts in war crimes and genocide cases allowed a Spanish judge to pursue a case against former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet. British authorities detained the former autocratic ruler in London in 1998 in connection with the case, but later released him on medical grounds.

In a commentary published Monday, Tokyo-based online magazine The Diplomat said most Spanish universal jurisdiction cases have not led to convictions of foreign suspects. The magazine said it is "virtually unthinkable" that China's indicted leaders will be extradited and forced to defend themselves before a Spanish court.
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