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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Spain judge indicts 40 Rwanda military officers on genocide charges
Alexis Unkovic at 3:09 PM ET

[JURIST] Spanish National Court Judge Fernando Andreu Wednesday indicted 40 members of the Rwandan military on genocide and terrorism charges stemming from crimes allegedly committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] that claimed some 800,000 lives. Andreu reportedly began investigating the Rwandan case in 2005 and indicated Wednesday that he could have also indicted Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website; BBC profile] on related charges if he were not protected by immunity as a sitting head of state.

In 2005, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled [text, in Spanish; JURIST report] that Spanish courts can exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes committed in other countries even if they do not involve Spanish citizens, thereby opening up the country's tribunals to hear foreign genocide cases. In its ruling that thousands of alleged killings and kidnappings committed during Guatemala's civil war could be tried by Spanish courts, the court concluded that universal jurisdiction outweighed national interests in cases of genocide. AP has more.

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