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Photo: Reuters
Shehade assassination
Photo: Reuters
Off the hook. Ben Eliezer
Photo: AFP
Spain court drops Gaza probe into Israeli air raid
As recommended by prosecutors, top Spanish court shelves investigation targeting Israeli officials for alleged crimes against humanity over deadly 2002 air raid in Gaza, which killed senior Hamas member Salah Shehadeh

A top Spanish court on Tuesday shelved a probe targeting Israeli officials for alleged crimes against humanity over a deadly 2002 air raid in Gaza, which resulted in 14 civilian deaths and dozens of injuries, a court source said.

 

The National Audience, the country's top criminal court, decided to close the investigation as recommended by prosecutors.

 

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lauded the court's decision. "This prosecution was, to begin with, a political attempt to take advantage of the Spanish judicial system," said Lieberman. "We view positively any effort to tackle this attempt, and hope that this marks the conclusion of this affair."

 

Earlier this year, public prosecutors advised judge Fernando Andreu to shelve the case on the grounds that the attack, which killed senior Hamas member Salah Shehadeh, had been under investigation by Israel.

 

The court's decision is the latest in several legal maneuvers noted in Madrid's courts in the matter, over the past few months. Recent reports by the Spanish media said that the government was trying to curb its sometimes overzealous investigators, from filing crimes against humanity indictments against various individuals, for events which took place in different parts of the world.

 

The Spanish court first heard a petition against Israeli officials in January, naming former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, former Israel Air Force and Israel Defense Forces Chief Dan Halutz, Knesset Member Avi Dichter, former IDF Chief Moshe Yaalon, former Southern Command Chief Doron Almog, former National Security Council head Giora Eiland and Brigadier-General (Res.) Mike Herzog, as potential suspects and persons of interest in the case.

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at the time that he would appeal to the Spanish premier in order to curb the investigation.

 

The various investigations launched by Spanish legislators resulted in international pressure on Madrid, to limit their jurisdiction to cases directly involving Spain or Spanish citizens.

 

The six judges presiding over the Spanish National Court are currently handling 13 human rights violations cases, concerning countries such as Iraq and Rwanda. 

 

AFP and Roni Sofer contributed to this report

 

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