Five high ranking officials in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could be arrested in countries that have extradition agreements with Spain says Canadian human rights lawyer, Clive Ansley.
Mr Ansley, who has extensive legal experience in Chinese law, was responding to the landmark decision by a Spanish court to accept charges of genocide and torture in a case filed against five officials of the CCP for their role in the persecution of Falun Gong.
Indictments have been issued for Jiang Zemin, former head of the Chinese Communist Party and believed to be the instigator of the persecution of Falun Gong, and Communist Party officials Bo Xilai, Luo Guo, Jia Qinglin and Wu Guanzheng.
Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline that was practiced by 100 million people in China. It was initially supported by the CCP as promoting health and social harmony, but was suddenly declared illegal and subsequently violently persecuted.
The defendants have 4-6 weeks to reply and could subsequently face extradition if they travel to a country that has an extradition treaty with Spain.
The legal action in Spain, headed by the Human Rights Law Foundation (HRLF), is one of many similar court cases taking place in countries all over the world seeking justice for the hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have been the victims of atrocities in China since the practice was banned in July 1999.
Mr Ansley expressed delight at Spain's stand against the atrocities being committed by the Chinese authorities.
This is not the first time that Spain has acted to bring political figures wanted for crimes against humanity to justice, said Mr Ansley. An indictment was issued by Spain for Chile's General Pinochet who was later arrested and briefly imprisoned in England.
According to an Epoch Times report, under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, domestic courts can hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity regardless of where they occur.
The impact of the Spanish court's decision was powerful, said Mr Ansley, because while an indictment might not worry the "Chinese political criminals", the prospect of being arrested would be extremely embarrassing.
“I suspect that they will be very, very intimidated, very reluctant to visit foreign countries because of this.”
Moreover, a decision made by a court in a democratic country carried a lot more weight and would be more embarrassing than any other sort of protest action.
It puts these issues on a higher level and it becomes more credible. “I would expect that it would bring the debate more to the forefront,” Mr Ansley said.
Mr Ansley hypothesized that the defendants would probably not answer to the indictment. “… they don't want to dignify the foreign court by recognizing it and filing a statement of defense or entering an appearance.”
He believed that the All China Law Association (ACLA), a "puppet" association controlled by the CCP, would use sovereign immunity to argue the case that the defendants did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Spanish court. “The Chinese Government had done this everywhere when an application of this kind has been made to a court.
“But I think the Spanish court may well see it through and convict these individuals because the evidence is overwhelming.”
Canada Could Follow Spain's Lead
“I would like to see the Canadian Government, of course, do the same thing and there was a petition to the Justice Ministry in Canada some years ago in an attempt to bring a prosecution here on exactly the same basis …”
While hopeful that Canada would follow Spain's lead, Mr Ansley felt that the influence of Power Corporation would overrule any personal feelings of empathy that the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper and members of his cabinet might have toward Falun Gong practitioners who had suffered injustices in China.
“But I think … the Power Corporation are now putting tremendous pressure on [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper to fall into line and get back to the old liberal policy of supporting Beijing no matter what.”
The Power Corporation of Canada is an international management and holding company whose many interests include financial services, insurance, communications and manufacturing.
“Power Corporation … is arguably the most powerful corporation in Canada [and] has dominated Canadian-China policy for something like 40 years.”