(March 29, 2009) Criminal proceedings have begun in Spain against six senior officials in the Bush administration for the use of torture against detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
Baltasar Garzon, the counter-terrorism judge whose prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet led to his arrest in Britain in 1998, has referred the case to the chief prosecutor before deciding whether to proceed.
The case is bound to threaten Spain's relations with the new administration in Washington, but Gonzalo Boye, one of the four lawyers who wrote the lawsuit, said the prosecutor would have little choice under Spanish law but to approve the prosecution.
"The only route of escape the prosecutor might have is to ask whether there is ongoing process in the US against these people," Boye told the Observer. "This case will go ahead. It will be against the law not to go ahead."
The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.