GARZON OPENS SECOND INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED U.S. TORTURE OF TERRORISM DETAINEES
Tuesday, 05 May 2009, 15:34UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000440 SENSITIVE SIPDIS FOR EUR/WE, ALSO FOR L/LEI AND CA/OCS, DOJ FOR BRUCE SWARTZ AND PAT REEDY EO 12958 N/A TAGS AORC, PREL, CASC, CJAN, PTER, PGOV, PHUM, PINS, SOCI, KCRM, KJUS, SP SUBJECT: GARZON OPENS SECOND INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED U.S. TORTURE OF TERRORISM DETAINEESREF: A. MADRID 392 B. MADRID 393 C. 08 MADRID 1280MADRID 00000440 001.2 OF 002¶1. (SBU) Summary: Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional)
investigating judge Baltasar Garzon has announced he will pursue
an investigation into allegations the U.S. tortured terrorism
detainees at Guantanamo. He has yet to name any targets of his
investigation. This comes days after he was forced to give up
a related complaint filed by an NGO against six Bush
Administration officials (ref a). At the urging of
Spanish prosecutors, the earlier case was reassigned
to another National Court judge who now appears to
be trying shelve the case. The Chief Prosecutor for
the National Court tells us he will also fight Garzon’s
latest move. Nevertheless, we suspect Garzon will wring
all the publicity he can from the case unless and until
he is forced to give it up. End summary.¶2. (U) Garzon bowed to arguments by Spanish prosecutors
and April 17 forwarded to National Court docketing
authorities a case recently filed against six Bush
Administration officials (ref a). That case was dul
y assigned to investigating judge Eloy Velasco.
We learned May 5 that Velasco has declined to process
that case saying that before moving forward the USG should
be asked if proceedings are underway in the U.S. He also
offered to transfer the proceedings to the U.S. under
the MLAT. We are waiting for a copy of Velasco’s ruling
and will advise further when we receive it. Meanwhile,
Garzon announced April 29 that he was commencing a separate
investigation into alleged U.S. torture of terrorism detainees.¶3. (SBU) LEGATT and Embassy FSN Legal Advisor met May 4
with National Court Chief Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza
(protect) to discuss Garzon’s latest move.
Zaragoza said he had challenged Garzon directly and
personally on this latest case, asking if he was
trying to drum up more speaking fees. Garzon replied
he was doing it for the record only and would let it die.
Zaragoza opined that Garzon, having gotten his headline,
would soon drop the matter. In case he does not, Zaragoza
has a strategy to force his hand. Zaragoza’s strategy hinges
on the older case in which Garzon investigated terrorism
complaints against some Guantanamo detainees.
In connection with those earlier investigations, Garzon
ordered the Spanish police to visit Guantanamo and
collect evidence against the suspected terrorists.
Zaragoza reasons that he can use this fact to embarrass
Garzon into dropping this latest case by suggesting Garzon
in some sense condoned the U.S. approach to detainee issues
circa 2004. Garzon took no action in 2004 when the suspects
returned to Spain and reported to him their alleged mistreatment.
Zaragoza said that if Garzon could not be shamed into
dropping the case, then he would formally recommend Garzon
do so and appeal if Garzon ignored him.¶4. (SBU) Key to Zaragoza’s plans is the fact that there
is yet another Guantanamo-related case underway in the
National Court. That case relates to so-called CIA flights
carrying detainees to Guantanamo via Spain and is being
heard by investigating Judge Ismael Moreno (ref c).
The police officers whom Garzon sent to Guantanamo years
ago are expected to testify before Moreno this month,
and Zaragoza hopes their testimony will put on record
Garzon’s role in the earlier cases.
(Note: In opening his most recent Guantanamo investigation,
Garzon asked that Moreno turn his detainee flights case
over to him; Zaragoza thought there was no chance Moreno
would agree to do so. End note.) Zaragoza is also banking
on the fact that Garzon is already in hot water over his
excessive zeal in another case. A few months ago, Garzon
opened an investigation into Spanish civil war atrocities.
Garzon persisted in his investigation in the face of all
advice to the contrary from prosecutors.
The case was finally wrestled away from Garzon, but there
is now a criminal complaint against him in the Supreme Court,
alleging abuse of authority. That complaint has the support
of Spanish prosecutors. Zaragoza doubts Garzon will risk a
second such complaint.