European court hears claims Poland turned blind eye to CIA torture

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 5:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 5:08am


The European Court of Human Rights yesterday heard claims that Poland had turned a blind eye to the torture of two Guantanamo-bound prisoners of the CIA on its soil.

The case marks the first time Europe's role in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" of terror suspects reached the European Court of Human Rights.

Lawyers for Abu Zubaydah, a 42-year-old Palestinian, and Saudi Arabian national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 48, told the court that Warsaw authorised the US intelligence agency to detain their clients in Poland for several months in 2002-03.

They were repeatedly tortured by waterboarding during that time, the lawyers alleged.

They also alleged that the Polish authorities failed to act when the two men were transferred to Guantanamo in 2003, where they remain a decade later without ever having been put before a judge.

Al-Nashiri's lawyer, Amrit Singh, told the court its intervention was vital to end what he called "this impunity".

Singh said al-Nashiri was kept naked, made to witness mock executions and threatened that his mother would be brought and sexually abused in front of him.

The court said it would deliver a ruling but did not give a date.

The lawyers argued that Poland failed to uphold its commitments under the European Convention of Human Rights by allowing the two men to be made victims of inhuman or degrading treatment, by allowing them to be illegally deprived of their liberty and by failing to properly investigate the men's treatment.

Poland opened an investigation into the treatment of the two men in 2008 but it has yet to be concluded, a situation that has been condemned by the UN's anti-torture body.