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A Spanish judge's decision to investigate seven Israeli officials over a deadly 2002 attack against Hamas that had nothing to do with Spain has renewed a debate about the long arm of European justice.

Critics say Madrid should mind its own business, particularly since Spain is still struggling to address its own bloody past. Supporters argue that some crimes are so heinous that all of humanity is a victim and somebody has to prosecute them.

Spain is hardly alone. A number of European countries have enacted some form of "universal jurisdiction," a doctrine that allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes.

_ In 2001, a war crimes suit against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was filed in Belgium by Palestinian survivors of the 1982 Sabra and Chatilla refugee camp massacre in Lebanon. Belgium's highest court then dismissed the war crimes proceedings against Sharon and others, ruling it had no legal basis to charge them.

_ French judges have opened investigations into Congolese security officials and convicted a Tunisian Interior Ministry official of torturing a fellow citizen on Tunisian soil.

_ And Spain has indicted the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Osama bin Laden among others, including Argentine dirty war suspects.


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