In an unprecedented decision, a Spanish judge has indicted five high-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials for their role in crimes of torture and genocide committed against Falun Gong practitioners. The Court announcement indicated that if they are convicted, the defendants would face at least 20 years in prison and financial penalties.
In 1999, former CCP head Jiang Zemin singlehandedly instigated the campaign to "eradicate" the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. The genocidal policies of "ruin their reputations, bankrupt them financially, destroy them physically, and counting deaths due to torture as suicide," resulted in massive numbers of Falun Gong practitioners being arrested, tortured, beaten to death, and going missing. Many had their organs harvested while they were still alive, for the lucrative organ transplant trade. The other four defendants are all Jiang's staunch followers. These five defendants are the ones primarily responsible for the brutal persecution of Falun Gong.
The defendants have 4-6 weeks to reply and could subsequently face extradition if they travel to a country that has an extradition treaty with Spain. The decision was taken under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows domestic courts to hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity regardless of where they occur.
Following a two-year investigation, Spanish National Court Judge Ismael Moreno last week notified attorney Carlos Iglesias of the Human Rights Law Foundation (HRLF) that the court had granted a petition to send rogatory letters (letters of request) to the five defendants in China with questions relating to each individual's involvement in the persecution of Falun Gong. The decisions favouring the plaintiff followed a series of submissions to the court by Iglesias and other HRLF staff.
Attorney Iglesias said, "This historic decision by a Spanish judge means that Chinese Communist Party leaders responsible for brutal crimes are now one step closer to being brought to justice. When one carries out the crime of genocide or torture, it is a crime against the international community as a whole and not only against Chinese citizens. Spain is emerging as a defender of human rights and universal justice."
Among the accused are former CCP leader Jiang Zemin, widely acknowledged as the primary instigator of the campaign launched in 1999 to "eradicate" Falun Gong. Also facing charges is Luo Gan, who oversaw the 610 Office, a nationwide secret police task force that has led the violent campaign. Chinese lawyers have compared the 610 Office to Nazi Germany's Gestapo in its brutality and extra-legal authority.
The other three accused are Bo Xilai, current Party Secretary for Chongqing and former Minister of Commerce; Jia Qinglin, the fourth-highest member of the Party hierarchy; and Wu Guanzheng, head of an internal Party disciplinary committee. The charges against them are based on their proactive advancement of the persecution against Falun Gong when they served as top officials in Liaoning, Beijing, and Shandong, respectively.
In a Pulitzer prize-winning article, The Wall Street Journal's Ian Johnson describes how Wu imposed fines on his subordinates if they did not sufficiently crackdown on Falun Gong, leading officials to torture local residents, in some cases, to death.
Other evidence considered by the judge during his investigation included written testimonies from 15 Falun Gong practitioners and oral testimonies from seven practitioners, including torture victims and relatives of individuals who had been killed in Chinese custody. The judge also relied on reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.N. Human Rights Commission to reach his decision, HRLF attorney Iglesias said.
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