Since 2005, Spanish justice officials have operated under the principle of 'universal jurisdiction'. This permits national courts to try crimes against humanity, even if the crimes were not committed within their borders or by the leaders of their state.
The suspects named by Pedraz include Chinese Defence Minister Lian Guanglie, State Security Minister Geng Huichang and Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu.
The others are Chinese Communist Party Secretary for Tibet Zhang Qingli, Politic bureau member Wang Lequan, Ethnic Affairs Commission leader Li Dezhu, Lhasa Popular Liberation Army commander Tong Guishan and Chengdu military commando political commissioner Zhan Guihua.
"Given the cordial relations between our two respective countries, I hope that you will respond favorably to my request," Judge Pedráz wrote to the Chinese authorities, referring to a bilateral justice cooperation agreement signed in 2005, according to a court document obtained and cited by news agency AFP (May 5, 2009). The judge said that if the accusations made in the complaint are proven, they would constitute crimes against humanity under Spanish, and international law.
"The Tibetan population would appear to be a group that is persecuted by the cited authorities for political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or other motives universally recognized as unacceptable under international law," he wrote, according to the same AFP report.
In the public ruling today, Judge Pedráz says it is necessary to question Chinese leaders “for their participation in the crimes against humanity against the Tibetan people that are being investigated in these proceedings.” (Central Court No 1 of the Audiencia Nacional, Criminal preliminary proceedings 242/2008-10, Court Order of the Judge Santiago Pedráz Gómez, Madrid, May 5, 2009). The judge continues by stating that a copy of the lawsuit is enclosed “In order for them to exercise their right to defend themselves according to Spanish criminal law and article 775 for them to designate an address in Spain where they can be notified, while requesting authorization from the Chinese Ministry of Justice for a judiciary commission to go to China to question defendants, as formally accused, with legal assistance should they refuse to do so before this central court.”
Mr Pedraz action follows the submission of a suit against the Chinese leaders filled by the Tibet Support Committee, a Tibetan rights group, in 2008. The group filed its suit after the Chinese government suppressed protests by Tibetans in March 2008. The Tibetan government in exile says that over 220 Tibetans killed, 1,294 injured and 290 sentenced, more than 5,600 were arrested or detained and over 1,000 disappeared after the Chinese armed military deadly cracked down in all parts of Tibet.