Spain has assumed a universal jurisdiction in trying Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau for terrorism and crimes against humanity. Spain’s state prosecutor charged Shekau for a 2013 attack on Ganye, in which a Spanish nun, Maria Jesus Mayor, was assaulted, court papers said. About 25 people were killed during the attack. The nun was said to have been assaulted by the terrorists before she was able to escape into hiding and later rescued by Nigerian security services.
For Spain to carry out universal jurisdiction, there must be a Spanish connection such as a Spanish victim or perpetrator. In the Boko Haram case, the state prosecutor used the fact there was a Spanish victim to bring a generic charge of crimes against humanity and terrorism, Reuters reported. “This criminal act was committed against a background of terrorist activities that the jihadist organization (Boko Haram) is carrying out systematically against people and communities”.
Spain has pioneered the use of universal jurisdiction, the concept that crimes against humanity can be prosecuted across borders.
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