Answers sought on rendition

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am


Lawmakers have demanded answers from the government over allegations that it colluded with US and British secret services to deport a suspected Libyan terrorist, his wife and four young children to their homeland in 2004, where he faced torture and persecution.

The government remains silent on the alleged secret rendition of Sami al-Saadi (pictured), a case that has attracted international attention and prompted a lawsuit against the British government and the threat of legal action in Hong Kong.

In a letter sent to the Hong Kong Department of Justice last week, Saadi's lawyers set out the sequence of events that led to his family being forced onto an EgyptAir flight at Chep Lap Kok airport that took them to a military base in Tripoli.

The family was then transferred to a prison and Saadi was tortured, beaten and later placed on death row. His lawyers have accused the Hong Kong government of complicity to torture, conspiracy to injure, misfeasance in public office and negligence.

Before the secret flight in March 2004, the family had spent almost two weeks in Hong Kong under armed guard, without an explanation of why they were being detained.

Since it came to light in October, the Security Bureau and the Department of Justice have refused to discuss details of the case or even confirm Hong Kong's involvement.

James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party legislator and chairman of the Legislative Council security panel, said he hoped to question the government formally before the end of the July session on whether the rendition happened, and if so, its rationale. 'If the government feels that it is not part of the scandal and did not deliberately act in a malicious manner, it's better to come clean.'

To said that in extradition cases, a formal court proceeding should take place and notice should be given to the person who is to be deported.

Lau Kong-wah from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said he was not aware of the case but was confident that 'the government will deal with it and give the details and information'.

Civic Party lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said that as the case had been made public, the government had a duty to explain the situation.

Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said the case was damaging to the government because of possible breaches of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which stipulates against forcibly returning someone to a country where they are likely to be tortured.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Saadi say it may take years to unravel the exact details of what happened in the spring of 2004 when the Libyan rebel leader's efforts to evade the grip of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi were thwarted after Saadi landed on Hong Kong soil.

Known by at least six other names, Saadi was reportedly a chief strategist for the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which opposed Gaddafi. For 16 years, Saadi had been living in exile, including a 10-year stint in Britain, where he was granted indefinite leave to remain in 1993.

Saadi sought refuge in Guangzhou in 2003 as relations between Libya and Britain shifted. But in early 2004, after he began to fear for his family's safety on the mainland, he made plans to seek safe haven in Norway.

In secret CIA documents that were unearthed after rebels stormed the office of Gaddafi's intelligence chief last August, a dossier on Saadi referred to his training in al-Qaeda's camps in Pakistan in the 1990s and described him as one of Osama bin Laden's 'intimates'.