Skip to main content

Spanish judge issues arrest warrants for China's former President, Prime Minister

By Al Goodman, CNN
February 12, 2014 -- Updated 0924 GMT (1724 HKT)
[File photo] Former President of China Jiang Zemin (left) and former PM Li Peng in Beijing on 17 March (year unknown).
[File photo] Former President of China Jiang Zemin (left) and former PM Li Peng in Beijing on 17 March (year unknown).
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former President Jiang Zemin, former Prime Minister Li Peng are accused of genocide
  • Warrants against them and three other officials are the latest in a suit by pro-Tibetan groups
  • Tibet Support Committee chief: There's a chance they'll be arrested if they go abroad
  • Warrants come just before Spain debates seeking justice for foreign human rights abuses

Madrid (CNN) -- A Spanish judge issued international arrest warrants Monday for China's former President Jiang Zemin and former Prime Minister Li Peng for alleged genocide against the people of Tibet, Spain's National Court in Madrid said.

The warrants against them and three other senior Chinese officials are the latest chapter in a long-running lawsuit by pro-Tibetan groups and a dual Tibetan-Spanish citizen who seek international legal action against some Chinese officials.

Judge Ismael Moreno issued the arrest warrants for alleged "genocide, torture and crimes against humanity," and ordered them to be sent to Interpol, the international police agency, according to a copy of the order viewed by CNN.

The former officials will surely not be arrested in China, but there's a "medium chance" of them being arrested if they go abroad, "depending on the country and its ethics," said Alan Cantos, president of the Barcelona-based Tibet Support Committee.

Cantos expressed satisfaction with the judge's order, which his group has been pushing with its co-plaintiffs: the House of Tibet Foundation and Thubten Wangchen Sherpa Sherpa, a Tibetan who has lived in Spain for about 20 years and has Spanish citizenship.

"It shows that justice after all works, against all odds. If you let justice work, victims can have retribution," Cantos said.

The arrest warrants came on the eve of a debate in Spanish parliament, on Tuesday, that reportedly could restrict the use of the universal justice principle in Spanish courts. It holds that if human rights abuses aren't addressed in the country where they occurred, a separate country -- in this case, Spain -- has the right to seek legal action.

Spanish courts have applied the principle in trying to seek justice for abuses committed under some former Latin American military regimes, but some foreign governments have complained about Spanish courts meddling in their affairs.

Repeated phone calls to the Chinese Embassy in Madrid went unanswered.

On Tuesday, Hua Chunying, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said that Beijing was "strongly dissatisfied" and "firmly opposed to the erroneous acts" taken by Spanish agencies.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 0059 GMT (0859 HKT)
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT