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Spanish court ends Israel bombing probe

Spanish court ends Israel bombing probe

A Spanish court on Tuesday shelved a judge's investigation of an Israeli air force bombing in Gaza in 2002 that killed a suspected Hamas militant and 14 civilians, including nine children, siding with prosecutors who said Spain lacks jurisdiction.
A panel of 18 judges at the National Court decided by a wide majority to support prosecutors who opposed the probe on the ground that Israel already was investigating the attack, the court said in a statement. The judges announced only their decision, not the specific legal reasoning behind it. The court said that will be published in a matter of days.
A Palestinian human rights group that brought the complaint before the court can appeal to the Supreme Court in an effort to keep the case alive.
Israel complained angrily when Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu first agreed to launch the investigation in January, acting at the request of Palestinian relatives of victims of the attack.
Andreu said he was acting under Spain's observance of the principle of universal jurisdiction, which holds that grave crimes such as genocide, terrorism or torture can be prosecuted in Spain, even if they are alleged to have been committed outside the country.
Andreu said the bombing in densely populated Gaza City might constitute a crime against humanity.
That 2002 attack with a one-ton bomb dropped from an Israeli F-16 targeted and killed alleged Hamas member Salah Shehadeh along with 14 other people. Israel has defended the attack as a legitimate strike against a terrorist.
Spanish prosecutors asked the judge to suspend the investigation, but in May he announced he would continue. Andreu said he had found no evidence that Israeli prosecutors were conducting a probe of their own, so he had jurisdiction to press ahead.
Last week the lower chamber of the Spanish parliament passed a bill to narrow the scope of Spain's universal jurisdiction law to cases in which the victims of a crime include Spaniards or the alleged perpetrators are in Spain. The bill still has to go before the Senate, but passage is expected because both major parties support it.
However, the new law will not be retroactive, so cases like the one against Israel would remain active.


Updated : 2021-07-27 19:03 GMT+08:00