Rendition case Libyan Sami al-Saadi still plans to sue Hong Kong government

Rendition victim who agreed settlement with Britain to step up action against HK government

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 4:40am

A Libyan dissident still plans to sue the Hong Kong government for its role in his illegal rendition to his home country in 2004, despite reaching a £2 million (HK$25 million) compensation deal with Britain last week.

Lawyers for Sami al-Saadi, a vocal opponent of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, said they would now step up their pursuit of justice in Hong Kong.

"All eyes are on the Hong Kong government now," said Ghada Eldemellawy, an investigator with the British-based human rights legal charity Reprieve, representing Saadi.

"The case raises very serious allegations against the most senior government officials in Hong Kong and our team is fully focused on litigation."

Saadi said, through his lawyers, he was "looking forward to the long-overdue response" to a pre-action letter sent to the Department of Justice in June, which indicated his plans to sue local authorities.

The 12-page letter from his legal team at Ho, Tse, Wai & Partners details Saadi's allegations and seeks full disclosure of documents relating to a privately-chartered Egypt Air flight in 2004 which took Saadi, his wife and four young children to Tripoli.

There, Saadi claims, he was jailed and tortured.

The Department of Justice was due to respond on Wednesday, but the deadline passed with no reply.

"Sami is hopeful the UK's move will put pressure on the Hong Kong government to provide a substantive reply," Eldemellawy said yesterday.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice refused to comment on the case.

A Security Bureau spokesman refused to answer questions on whether or not Hong Kong had contributed to the British government's deal, or if it would have an impact on the legal case here.

Saadi claims in March 2004, he and his family were detained for almost two weeks in Hong Kong after they arrived on a flight from Beijing en route to Norway.

A former security official and justice of the peace, Stanley Ying Yiu-hong, was listed in secret documents about the rendition as a key contact.

He is currently on indefinite leave for family reasons. The Business Aviation Centre at Chek Lap Kok was also listed as a possible intermediary for the rendition, with then customer-services manager Madonna Fung listed as the contact.

Fung, now general manager of the centre, has refused numerous requests for an interview.

Last month, lawmaker James To Kun-sun formally asked for details of the case. Acting Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said legal action was pending and refused to comment.

The British government's payout was agreed after Saadi claimed the intelligence agency MI6 was involved in his illegal rendition. Saadi also alleges that the CIA helped in his abduction.