The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
January 26th, 2009 - German Sues Macedonia Over Capture, Torture
From Die Welt
January 26, 2009
A German man of Lebanese descent who says he was kidnapped and tortured by the CIA has sued Macedonia for 50,000 euros, saying their agents wrongly imprisoned and abused him. The civil lawsuit was the latest international legal battle by Khaled el-Masri, who said he was abducted in Macedonia 2003 and later flown to Afghanistan and tortured.
He was eventually released in Albania months later.
The case drew wide attention to the Central Intelligence Agency’s extraordinary rendition under former U.S. President George Bush. Under that secret programme, terrorism suspects were sent from one foreign country to another for interrogation.
"We are asking for damages for the time that he spent here, for the torture he suffered here in Macedonia for 24 days,“ Filip Medarski, his lawyer in Macedonia, said in a telephone interview. "We are asking for 50,000 euros.“
"The court does not give large amounts for such things.“
Medarski said Masri, who had worked as a car salesman, was travelling to Macedonia in late December 2003 to celebrate the new year as a tourist and perhaps to purchase a car. He was held in a hotel near the U.S. Embassy in the capital Skopje and questioned - in English, which he does not speak well - about ties to al Qaeda and Islamic extremists.
The latest lawsuit says Macedonia violated provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, including on torture, liberty and respect for human rights.
Masri’s German lawyer said the married father of six was still unable to function normally in society because of the detention and that he remained unemployed.
"He is undergoing therapy because still nowadays he cannot get his psyche under control,“ said attorney Manfred Gnjidic. "He doesn’t know who is responsible for what happened to him.“
Masri had previously lost a U.S. lawsuit against the CIA and others in which he sought at least $75,000 - slightly more than the amount sought from Macedonia.
A separate criminal complaint filed in Macedonia in October would probably be rejected because five years had passed, local attorney Medarski said, although another legal case in Germany had better chances.
The complaint was mailed on Saturday and would probably be received by the Macedonian court on Monday, the lawyer said.
Macedonia’s justice minister did not return calls for comment. Government officials have said little in the past about the incident.
"In effect, the government of Macedonia has adopted an ’official line’ of complete negation, repeated in a rigid and stereotyped fashion,“ the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly said in a 2006 report.
U.S. President Barack Obama last week ordered the closure of Guantanamo military prison, a crackdown on harsh interrogation methods and the elimination of secret CIA detention centres.