Spain's National Court on Tuesday said it will review allegations that two Chinese government ministers and five other officials were responsible for repressing protests against Chinese rule in Tibet earlier this year.
Two Spanish pro-Tibet groups filed a lawsuit, claiming the seven officials were responsible for at least 203 deaths, more than 1,000 injured and nearly 6,000 illegal arrests and disappearances during the March protests.
Investigative magistrate Santiago Pedraz said the court is entitled to investigate under Spain's principle of universal jurisdiction for cases dealing with charges, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, regardless of where they were allegedly committed.
The statement names Defense Minister Lian Guanglie and State Security Minister Geng Huichang among the seven. Two army officials and two senior Communist Party officials are also being probed.
After studying the evidence, the judge will decided if there is sufficient evidence to file charges.
The Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing said it had seen the news reports on the matter but had no immediate comment.
The groups filing the suit were named as the Tibet Support Committee and the House of Tibet Private Foundation.
In recent years, Spanish magistrates have used the principle of universal jurisdiction several times to pursue cases in different countries, most notably against members of former military regimes in Latin America, but extraditions and convictions have been rare.
In a separate case, the Madrid court has also been reviewing since 2006 another lawsuit filed by the Tibet Support Committee against several former Chinese officials for alleged genocide in the years after Chinese Communist troops entered Tibet in 1951.