MADRID – One of the lawyers behind a complaint accusing six former Bush administration officials with sanctioning the torture of terror suspects urged the American officials Monday to come to Spain to face justice.
If they are innocent they shouldn't be afraid, human rights lawyer Gonzalo Boye told The Associated Press in an interview.
The case against the American officials — including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith — was brought by human rights lawyers before Spain's investigative judge Baltasar Garzon, who has sent it on to prosecutors to see if the charges merit a full investigation.
It alleges the men gave legal cover to the torture of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by claiming that the U.S. president could ignore the Geneva Conventions and by adopting an overly narrow legal definition of torture.
In addition to Gonzales and Feith, the complaint names former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes.
Spanish law gives its courts jurisdiction beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes, based on a doctrine known as universal justice, though the government has recently said it hopes to limit the scope of the legal process.
The only one of the accused to comment publicly has been Feith, who said Saturday that the charges "make no sense."
"I would recommend that Mr. Feith first of all read the complaint, and secondly that he get a very good lawyer," Boye said. "If he is so sure of what he is saying — then the address of the national court is .22 Genova Street, second floor."
Prosecutors must now decide whether to recommend a full investigation. Still, Garzon is not bound by their decision.
The judge has not commented since the complaint became public Saturday. On Monday, he hustled up the steps of the National Court without speaking to journalists.
Deputy Spanish Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said the government would have no comment on the merits of the case, which she said was in the hands of an independent judiciary.
Still, the proceedings could not have come at a more delicate time for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has been hoping for better relations with the United States. The Bush Administration never forgave Zapatero for pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq, and he was the only Western European leader never invited to the White House.
Zapatero is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama for the first time on April 5 during a summit in Prague.