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27february201015A Spanish judge yesterday dropped an investigation into China's crackdown on unrest that erupted in Tibet in March 2008, reports AFP.

The probe was the result of a lawsuit filed by the Tibet Support Committee against eight Chinese leaders, including Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and Minister for State Security Geng Huichang.

The suit denounced "the new wave of oppression that began in Tibet on 10th March 2008 (which proves) that acts of genocide continue to be committed against the Tibetan people."

National Court Judge Santiago Pedraz had agreed to hear the case in August 2008, just days before the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

He was acting under Spain's principle of "universal competence" under which Spanish courts can hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity wherever they occur and whatever the nationality of the defendant.

But Mr Pedraz was forced to drop the case yesterday as a result of limitations imposed on that principle by the Spanish parliament last year, following diplomatic pressure from a number of countries.

The parliament decided to restrict such cases to those involving Spanish victims or those in which the suspects are on Spanish soil.

The director of the Tibet Support Committee, Alan Cantos, told AFP, "It is deeply disappointing at all levels, particularly for the victims, families and witnesses that were involved in the case, inside and outside Tibet."

Unrest in Tibet erupted on March 14 2008, after four days of peaceful protests against Chinese rule.

The Tibetan Government-in-exile, in Dhramsala, India, says 203 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt in China's crackdown. Beijing insists that only one Tibetan was killed and in turn accused the "rioters" of killing 21 people.

Beijing has condemned the accusations of genocide in Tibet as slander and has accused Madrid of trying to interfere in its administration of the Himalayan region.

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