THE WALL STREET JOURNAL – By DAVID ROMAN MADRID — A Spanish judge has summoned a top Iraqi military commander, accused of having directed a 2009 assault on an Iraq-based camp holding Iranian opponents of Tehran’s regime, to face charges of breaching the Geneva Convention, a spokesperson for Spain’s National Court said Tuesday.
According to the writ signed by Judge Fernando Andreu, Lieutenant General Abdol Hossein Al Shemmari must appear before the court March 8 to answer questions about his alleged role in the attack against the Ashraf refugee camp, which left 11 people killed and 450 wounded, the spokesperson said, confirming an earlier report in Spanish newspaper El Pais.
The indictment, the latest in a series of controversial summons by Spanish judges applying the “universal justice” principle to take on international cases, comes amid a growing controversy over Iranian influence on Baghdad’s government.
A statement from the chief lawyer in the case, Spain’s Juan Garces, explicitly cites Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki by name, saying that Lt. Gen. Al Shemmari worked during the operation under the supervision of a committee responding to the prime minister’s office. Mr. al Maliki himself, believed by many to be close to pro-Iranian elements in Iraq, isn’t accused or cited in the court summons.
The Ashraf assault targeted members of the People’s Mojahedeen Organization of Iran, a group classified as terrorist by the U.S. that has opposed the Iranian regime for decades. The incident has become a cause celebre recently—in an open letter sent over the weekend to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S.-based advocacy group Americans for Democracy in the Middle East protested the action and accused Mr. al Maliki’s government of having acted “at the behest of the Iranian regime.”
According to the Spanish indictment, the assault—conducted by 2,000 soldiers against unarmed civilians—was in breach of the Geneva Convention provisions for the protection of civilians during wartime.
Judge Garces, a combative attorney who was a force behind the notorious 1998 indictment of late Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, said this is the first time that an Iraqi official has been summoned before a court for serious violations of international law.