Spanish law troubles Wiesenthal Center

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed its "great concern" over a law allowing a Spanish judge to pursue Israelis for war crimes.

In a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the center’s director for International relations, Dr.  Shimon Samuels, called Judge Fernando Andreu’s pursuit of war crimes against seven senior Israeli political and military figures an "apparent misappropriation of Spain’s 1993 law of ‘universal jurisprudence,’ which grants power to Spanish judges to prosecute delicts beyond Spanish territory committed by non-Spaniards against non-Spaniards."

The judge has charged the Israeli leaders for the targeted killing in July 2002 of Salah Shehadeh, leader of Hamas’ military wing. Shehadeh "indoctrinated, trained and dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers into Israel for the mass murder of Jewish civilians," the letter points out.

The letter noted that the center presented the Spanish leaders in 1996 with a list of Nazis who had sought post-World War II refuge in Spain and that "none were ever prosecuted and several died with impunity in Spain."

Samuels also pointed out that the judge and other Spanish justices have not issued arrest warrants for domestic terrorism committed in Spain.

"There is a Hebrew word that sums up 2,000 years of anti-Semitism — ‘chutzpah,’ " Samuels wrote. "Its Spanish translation — ‘atrevimiento’ — hardly does it justice. But neither does Spain’s arbitrary ‘universal jurisprudence.’ "

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