Spain's Supreme Court upholds dismissal of Tibet genocide charges against Chinese former leaders

Arrest warrants had been issued in 2013 against Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, another three leaders · Spanish Parliament passed in 2014 a new law in order to limit universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity

Spain's Supreme Court yesterday upheld a June 2014 decision to shelve the inquiries on genocide charges against five former Chinese leaders, including former President Jiang Zemin (left image)  and former Prime Minister Li Peng.

Spain's Audiencia Nacional (National Court) had issued in 2013 an arrest warrant against all five leaders over genocide charges in Tibet, following a lawsuit that two pro-Tibetan groups in Catalonia and Spain and Tibetan monk Thubten Wangchen had filed in 2006. The monk and both groups argued the Chinese government had implemented genocidal policies in Tibet from 1972 to 2004.

Things changed in Februrary 2014 when the Congress of Deputies (Spain's lower chamber) approved a law -to be applied retroactively- to limit universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity. Accordint to the law, Spanish judges would only be allowed to investigate crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity if indictees were Spanish citizens or foreigners who had their habitual residence in Spain at the time when the crimes were committed.This was not the case for the five Chinese leaders.

Changes in Spanish law followed intense presure on Spain from Chinese authorities, who argued the decision to issue an arrest warrant was a mistake and could harm Spain-China political and comercial relations.

The law as passed in Februrary 2014 meant that the five Chinese leaders could no longer be investigated over genocide charges. Indeed, the Audiencia Nacional in June 2014 decided to shelve the inquiry, as a consequence of the new legal framework.

Plaintiffs then appealed to the Supreme Court to review the decision. That appeal was yesterday rejected by the Supreme Court.

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