Spain Will Investigate Gitmo Torture

The High Court in Spain has decided that it can proceed with its investigation of the torture that Lahcen Ikassrien alleges he suffered at Gitmo.

A Spanish court Friday agreed to investigate a complaint by a Moroccan who said he was tortured while in the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, judicial sources said.

The National Court said it was competent to take the case as the complainant, Lahcen Ikassrien, has been living in Spain for 13 years.


The judges Friday rejected an appeal by prosecutors who sought to have the case thrown out on the grounds that Ikassrien did not have sufficient links with Spain.

Here’s what the Center for Constitutional Rights has to say about the news:

This is a monumental decision that will enable a Spanish judge to continue a case on the “authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill treatment” by U.S. officials at Guantanamo. Geoffrey Miller, the former commanding officer at Guantánamo, has already been implicated, and the case will surely move up the chain of command. Since the U.S. government has not only failed to investigate the illegal actions of its own officials and, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks,  also sought to interfere in the Spanish judicial process and stop the case from proceeding, this will be the first real investigation of the U.S. torture program. This is a victory for accountability and a blow against impunity. The Center for Constitutional Rights applauds the Spanish courts for not bowing to political pressure and for undertaking what may be the most important investigation in decades.

As always, it pays to be skeptical that the US won’t still find a way to quash this investigation. But given the exposure WikiLeaks gave DOJ’s prior interventions with Spanish officials, they may have overplayed their hand.Also note, this is not the case that implicates the 6 lawyers who approved torture. I suspect that the pending suits against John Yoo and others might give the DOJ the ability to claim that crime is still being investigated here in the states.

Update: CCR quote updated.

  1. Disgusteddan says:

    Thank you Spain, for doing what the US has neither the will or morals to do.

    Those of us who believe in the Rule of Law salute you.

    • BMcGarth says:

      Thank you Spain indeed.

      Call the Spanish Embassy….er consulate & thank ’em for doing the right thing.

      Los Angles Phone#:323-938-0158

      D.C Phone#:202-782-2330

      San Fran Phone#:415-922-2995.

      Let’s encourage em to do the right thing,as we can’t get our Govt to do the right thing here in the USA.

      • greenharper says:

        Done! Good for Spain!

        Also, the email address for the Embassy of Spain in D.C.: [email protected].

        Now let’s hope that the Spanish use the Spain – U.S. Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters for requests to the U.S. for evidence. Compliance is mandatory.

        Judge Balthasar Garzon had been using letters rogatory in, I think, another case. DOJ blew him off. Compliance with a letter rogatory is a matter of international comity only. I don’t have a link. Scott Horton had reported it.

        • greenharper says:

          Hope is not enough. Just emailed the Center for Constitutional Rights and urged it to urge its (presumed) Spanish magistrate contacts to use the Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance for evidence requests to the U.S.

  2. Shoto says:

    As always, it pays to be skeptical that the US won’t still find a way to quash this investigation.

    True. Be that as it may, however, I’m certain that the news of this investigation is highly stressful for the likes of Yoo, Addington, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etal. Accordingly, we should encourage them to take a much-deserved vacation. To Spain.

    • bluewombat says:

      I’m certain that the news of this investigation is highly stressful for the likes of Yoo, Addington, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etal. Accordingly, we should encourage them to take a much-deserved vacation. To Spain.

      Here’s the link to send them:

      • Mary says:

        Remember, it was Goldsmith’s name on the draft memo that let people who were not POWs be taken out of country, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, for “interrogations.” HahVard want’s to be able to claim it’s own when it comes to torture.

  3. eCAHNomics says:

    Hooray! On this issue, any movement abroad is welcome. At a minimum makes it difficult for admin officials to leave U.S.

    • bluewombat says:

      Heh. W cancels speech after learning that Assange was also invited to address the same group.

      Here’s a quote, from your link, to bust the irony meter:

      “The former president has no desire to share a forum with a man who has willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States,” his spokesman, David Sherzer, said in a statement.

  4. mafr says:


    “In 1983 Texas sheriff James Parker and three of his deputies were convicted for conspiring to force confessions. The complaint said they “subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning”.[109] The sheriff was sentenced to ten years in prison, and the deputies to four years.”

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Nice one. Though the punishment sounds light compared to the crime. (How many false confessions did they coerce btw?)

      Though I’d settle for any prison time for W et al.

  5. JohnLopresti says:

    Sometime in the 8th century Iberia saw a pronounced influx of some segments of eastern Mediterranean and northern African peoples, which effect endured about 7 more centuries until around the time Columbus sailed for the New World. Spain next passed thru a kind of xenophobic shuttering of its portals to several prominent ethnic and religious groups, including those *invaders*. What has ensued in modern times is a re-permeation of Iberian society with those very same previously banned groups. Which is to say, Arabic and Moorish people have become part of the melting pot in Spain, much like the blended ethnicities one may observe in a metropolitan area such as New York City. I think Spain will pursue a conscientious investigation, although, as bmaz had observed long ago, the diplomatic factors are likely to firewall any excessive overreach of discovery and sanction, if any is imposed. I would anticipate even economic countermeasures such as a **diplomatic** invitation the European Community to encourage Spain that it countenance implementing Greek style austerity laws, for the purpose of preserving the condition of its national indebtedness, rather than *getting too far out on this* gtmo thing, (waxing Rovian there, in concept).

  6. tjbs says:

    May the ghosts of the Murdered, under questioning, haunt the bushes all their days.

    bush is the name, torture/ Murder/ Treason is their game.

  7. onitgoes says:

    Happy to hear it and hat’s off to Spain for taking the moral highroad and doing the right thing. May justice prevail.

    • JohnLopresti says:

      He was reinstated. There was a substantial public demonstration outside the Chamber of Deputies supporting Garzon. There was a compromise, not to get into the Spanish civil war history project he had eyed.

  8. Jeff Kaye says:

    Thanks for covering this.

    Here’s a bit of background on Lahcen Ikassrien, translated from El Pais (I believe) by the good people at Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas at UC Davis:

    “Why did you come to Afghanistan?”, the American soldiers asked him time and time again in a house next to the prison where alleged doctors of the US army treated his wounds. “They put a gun to my head and they hit me with the gun’s butt when I did not answer. I remained several weeks in that prison [Mazar-i-Sharif], and I found out from the people of the Red Cross that Dostum’s men had sold to me for 75,000 dollars. They had told them that I was an important terrorist. And the Americans paid them with false dollars. One night they removed me from the yard with other 15 people, they put us in a truck naked and took us by airplane to the Kandahar airport. There I discovered, by that bracelet, that for those people I was ‘Animal 64’ “….

    The torture sessions in the prison of Kandahar lasted a month (it was January 2002)…. “There a day seemed like a year. They burned my legs with cigarettes, they hit me over the head with gun butts guns, and repeated time and time again that a person like me did not have the right to live….

    “They threw me to the ground with the dogs, they put their knees on me and they tied me up with cords while one of them recorded a video tape. In another tent they cut my hair, threw yellow disinfectant powder at me and they dressed me in a white jumpsuit. A dozen of us went on an airplane, all hooded, sitting on the floor, our hands and feet shackled. The trip was long, and relieved ourselves there, as they did not allow us to go bathroom. We did not know where we were going. We arrived in Guantánamo at noon “….

    The interrogations at Camp Delta were held in a special room, and reminded the Moroccan of his experience in Kandahar. They showed him hundreds of photographs of Jihadists and spoke of tens of groups close to al-Qaeda. “They came to the cell, they used a spray that made you cry, you turned around, went down on your knees with your hands intertwined over your head, and they tied your hands and feet with chains. They led you to a room with plastic walls, and there they left you alone for hours. Hours of anguish waiting for them to arrive. They put ventilators so that you were freezing cold”.

  9. dwilder says:

    You have to admit, the only upside to the economic downturn is that “the little people” — those silly enough to actually believe there is a difference between right and wrong — will dare to attack our “Freedoms” face to face.

  10. bluewombat says:

    Gracias al gobierno de Espana (o a sus jueces, al menos), que tienen el respeto por la ley internacional y los derechos humanos hacer lo que se deber hacer. Que pena el gobierno estadounidense falta los cojones hacer esto!

    (Thanks to the government of Spain, or its judges at least, who have the respect for international law and human rights to do what must be done. What a shame that the U.S. government lacks the cojones to do this.)

  11. bobschacht says:

    I scanned through the comments to check, but no one else has yet celebrated the implication of Geoffrey Miller, former commander at Guantanamo, as a focal person of interest. I have been anxious for justice for this scumbag for years, ever since his role in Abu Ghraib was first reported. It will indeed be a mark of progress if he is indicted and tried. His trial might be enough to get major press coverage. I just want a fair and thorough trial, which I am confident would lead to conviction if the prosecution is handled by competent parties.

    Bob in AZ