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Spanish judge opens new probe into Guantanamo torture

One of Spain's best-known judges has opened an investigation into the Bush administration over alleged torture of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

Prisoners at Guantanamo kneel in the courtyard

Baltasar Garzon wants to find out whether Guantanamo detainees were tortured

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon on Wednesday announced a new investigation of those allegedly responsible for torture at the US prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba.

"It seems that the documents declassified by the US administration mentioned by the media have revealed what was previously a suspicion," Garzon said in a court document.

They showed the existence of "an authorized and systematic program of torture" of prisoners who had not been charged with any crimes at Guantanamo and other prisons including that in Bagram, Afghanistan, he said.

Baltasar Garzon

Garzon is known for pursuing spectacular cases of human rights abuses

The document said Garzon would probe the "perpetrators, the instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices" to crimes of torture at the prison.

The National Court judge based the case on complaints filed by Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed - known as the "Spanish Taliban" - and three other former detainees who claimed they suffered torture at the camp.

The case is unrelated to an earlier investigation Garzon launched against former US attorney-general Alberto Gonzales and five other former officials of the Bush administration over human rights abuses at Guantanamo.

Prosecutors earlier this month issued an official request for the judge to drop that probe. They said Garzon was not qualified to carry out such a "general inquiry into policies put in place by the previous US administration."

They also argued the complaint should have first been brought before a US court.

Since 2005, Spain has operated under the principle of "universal jurisdiction." This doctrine allows courts to go beyond national borders in cases of torture, terrorism or war crimes, although the government reportedly aims to limit the scope of the legal process.

Garzon became known internationally in the late 1990s when he attempted to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

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