May 5, 2009 / 3:04 PM / 10 years ago

Spain could open second Guantanamo torture probe

* Judge moves closer to second Spanish Guantanamo probe

* Another judge wants to interrogate Chinese over Tibet

MADRID, May 5 (Reuters) - A Spanish judge moved closer on Tuesday to investigating former Bush administration officials over torture at Guantanamo Bay, raising the possibility that two Spanish probes could focus on activities at the U.S. base.

In a ruling, Judge Eloy Velasco asked U.S. authorities to confirm if an investigation already exists in the United States into accusations of complicity with torture against six men including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The request is a formality because it is public knowledge that Gonzales and the other men face no judicial probe in their home country. But it is necessary so Judge Velasco can argue that he can open an investigation.

Another Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, has launched a separate criminal probe into accusations of torture at Guantanamo, which U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to close.

Spain’s judges have pioneered the principal of universal jurisdiction, according to which certain serious crimes can be investigated anywhere in the world if the courts of the countries where they were committed do not act.

In another case, a Madrid judge asked on Tuesday to be allowed to interrogate eight senior Chinese officials including China’s defence minister as part of an investigation into the deaths of at least 203 Tibetans and the disappearance or arrest of another 5,972 during disturbances in 2008.

Although Garzon came close to extraditing former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 2000 and at least two former Argentine military officers have been jailed in Spain for human rights abuses, Spain’s judges have usually found the targets of their investigations have been protected by their home countries. (Reporting by Jason Webb; editing by Robert Woodward)

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