10/11/2013, 00.00
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Madrid opens investigation against Hu Jintao for genocide in Tibet

Spain's National Court, which has jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed outside Spain's borders, accepted the request presented by a group of exiled Tibetans. The 1989 massacre, ordered by Hu when he was party secretary general in Tibet, looms large in the case.

Madrid ( AsiaNews) - Spain's National Court agreed to hear charges of genocide against former Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is accused of genocide by some exiled Tibetan groups.

According to the plaintiffs, Hu, who served as the Communist Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region between 1988 and 1992, is guilty of ordering the unlawful slaughter of Tibetans involved in China's 1989 protests. The violence, which followed the death of the 10th Panchen Lama, left about 500 people dead.

A few months later, the same occurred in Tiananmen Square against students and workers who had taken to the streets to demand an end to corruption in the Communist Party and greater democracy.

On that occasion, Hu was the first high-ranking Chinese leader to send a telegram to congratulate Chairman Deng Xiaoping for the " wise choice " of sending tanks into the streets against unarmed citizens.

In June, the same court had dismissed the request for lack of evidence. Since then however, enough material has given the court arguments to overturn its earlier decision, a change supported by the fact that one of the plaintiffs, Thubten Wangchen, is a Spanish citizen and because China did not carry out its own investigation into the allegations.

The National Court handles crimes against humanity and genocide, including cases of crimes against humanity wherever they occur outside Spanish territory on the legal principle of universal competence. In 2009, the universality was limited to cases in which Spanish citizens become victims of such crimes.

Overall, the court "recognises that this genocide is against the country of Tibet and against the Tibetan nation, and the judges recognise that this indictment of Hu Jintao comes at the precise judicial moment 'when his [ten-year] diplomatic immunity expires'," the Madrid-based Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet, a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement.

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