Terror suspects tortured at CIA 'black site' in Poland win payouts from European court

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 11:38pm

Europe's top human rights court has ruled that Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by allowing the CIA to imprison and torture two alleged terrorists on Polish soil.

The court in Strasbourg, France, said that Poland failed to stop the "torture and inhuman or degrading treatment" of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, who were taken to Poland in 2002.

It ordered Poland to pay €130,000 (HK$1.35 million) to Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect, and €100,000 to Nashiri, a Saudi national charged with orchestrating the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that killed 17 US sailors.

Lawyers for the suspects, who are being held at Guantanamo Bay, said they were held at a CIA "black site" in northern Poland between 2002 and 2003.

The court said the treatment the two men were subjected to by the CIA during their detention in Poland "amounted to torture".

The court also faulted Poland for failing to conduct an effective investigation. The government launched an investigation in 2008 but there are no signs it is close to a conclusion.

Poland's Foreign Ministry said it could not immediately comment because its legal experts still needed to examine the 400-page ruling. But President Bronislaw Komorowski called the judgment "embarrassing" and said it would damage Poland's image and finances.

Nashiri's representative Amrit Singh, of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said: "This is a historic ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which has become the first court to confirm the existence of a secret CIA torture centre on Polish soil between 2002 and 2003, where our client Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was held and tortured.

"The court's findings include a damning indictment of the US military commission system, where our client is now facing trial for his life, and also a condemnation of the death penalty itself."