The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
March 30th, 2010 - Alleged CIA Victim Sentenced Over Mayor Attack
From the Associated Press
March 30, 2010
Memmingen, Germany - A German man whose claims he was kidnapped and tortured by CIA agents reached top political levels was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday for attacking the mayor of his home town.
A state court in the Bavarian city of Memmingen convicted Khaled el-Masri, 46, of bodily harm for the attack last September on Neu-Ulm Mayor Gerold Noerenberg, who suffered a broken finger and an eye injury.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Washington admitted making a mistake with el-Masri, who asserts that he was wrongly identified as an associate of the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers and was kidnapped while trying to enter Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003.
A German of Lebanese descent, he says he was flown to a CIA-run prison known as the "salt pit" in Afghanistan, where he was beaten and sexually abused with an object during five months in captivity before being released in Albania in May 2004.
El-Masri's lawyer has argued that his client is suffering from the aftereffects of his ordeal.
Judge Brigitte Grenzstein argued on Tuesday that his sentence couldn't be suspended because el-Masri already was on probation for a previous offense at the time of the incident, the German news agency DAPD reported.
Grenzstein said el-Masri had brutally attacked someone who had done nothing to him. However, the court also found that the attack wouldn't have happened if not for the traumatic effects of his alleged kidnapping.
It was not clear why el-Masri attacked the mayor, though Gnjidic said he viewed him as a representative of the state and was seeking his help.
In 2007, el-Masri was sentenced to two years' probation for setting a fire outside a store in Neu-Ulm after a heated argument and for punching an official at a drivers' testing center.
The judge rejected defense lawyer Manfred Gnjidic's argument that the German state had no right to convict el-Masri because it hadn't helped him after his kidnapping.
"That doesn't give the defendant the right to commit crimes," Grenzstein said.
Gnjidic said he would recommend to el-Masri that he appeal.
The Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege in el-Masri's case, shutting him out of the U.S. court system. The Supreme Court refused to hear his case in 2007.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press.