Citing the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón has used the Spanish courts to investigate cases of torture, war crimes and other offenses around the world. Garzón was the judge to indict Osama bin Laden and dozens of other members of al Qaeda in 2003.
"Any person who leads a terrorist organization like al Qaeda is obviously a target," Garzón said. "Under the rule of law, justice should be sought by legal means. According to the information we have, he could well have been arrested and brought to trial for his crimes."
"According to international law, the murder or the assassination of bin Laden was not the appropriate solution," Garzón said. "Clearly, from the information we have, it's an undefined situation, given the state of conflict between the United States and al Qaeda."
In 1998, Garzón ordered the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, a move that led to Pinochet's arrest and detention in Britain. Garzón later attempted to indict six high-ranking members of the Bush administration for their role in authorizing torture at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay and overseas, before the case was eventually dropped under U.S. pressure.
While Garzón has long been one of the world's most feared judges, he is now facing his own legal battle. Last year he was indicted for exceeding his authority for launching an investigation into the disappearance of more than 100,000 civilians at the hands of supporters of Gen. Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Garzón was suspended as a judge in May 2010 and is facing three separate trials.
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