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Friday, February 27, 2009

Spain probes Israel's 2002 Gaza bombing

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 19:10:45 GMT | PressTV

Judge Fernando Andreu
Spain's Judge Fernando Andreu is set to go ahead with an investigation into crimes against humanity by top Israeli military officials.

The decision came after Andreu studied translated documents he received from the Israeli embassy, revealing Tel Aviv has not launched any legal procedure concerning a 2002 bombing of Gaza.

Andreu agreed last month to pursue a complaint of crimes against humanity against seven senior Israeli military figures over the bombing.

The prospect of the investigation, which is in line with Spain's assumption of the principle of universal jurisdiction in alleged cases of crimes against humanity, genocide, and terrorism, has enraged the Tel Aviv government.

The probe by the Spanish judge could be suspended only if the alleged crimes are subject to a legal procedure in the country involved.

Andreu now plans to officially notify former Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and six senior military officials of the inquiry, and also seek witness testimony from Palestinians, AFP quoted sources as saying.

The investigation will look into a complaint by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights concerning the Israeli assassination top Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh in an air strike on July 22, 2002 on Gaza City.

At least 14 civilians - mainly infants and children - fell victim to the attack which also left 150 Palestinians wounded.

In January, Andreu said the attack in a densely-populated area "showed signs of constituting a crime against humanity."

Israel's current Defense Minister Ehud Barak has rejected the complaint as "delirious" and vowed to do "everything possible to get the investigation dismissed."

In a bid to alleviate Tel Aviv's rage, Spanish Foreign minister Miguel Moratinos immediately informed his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, on Jan. 30 of plans to limit the country's powers.

Spanish judges can independently launch war crimes investigations against foreign officials. In 1998 a Spanish judge practiced his power, issuing an arrest warrant for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet who was accordingly etained in Britain.

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