The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
December 10th, 2010 - Court Rejects El-Masri Suit Against German Govít
From the Associated Press
December 10, 2010
Berlin - A German court rejected a lawsuit filed by Khaled el-Masri seeking to force Berlin into prosecuting suspected CIA agents who he alleges illegally detained him nearly eight years ago as part of the U.S. rendition program.
The Cologne Administrative Court, in a ruling on Dec. 7, supported Berlin's decision not to seek the Americans' extradition after Washington told the Germans in 2007 it would reject any attempts to prosecute its agents, citing national security concerns. The ruling was published on Friday.
The court ruled that "the German government's decision not to seek the extradition of the agents, despite the arrest warrant issued by a German court, was legal."
El-Masri's lawyer said he and his client were considering whether to appeal the ruling. They have one month to do so.
El-Masri, 44, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was illegally detained by CIA agents while entering Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003 and then transferred to a CIA-run prison in Afghanistan, where he says he was beaten, sodomized and injected with drugs.
Five months later, el-Masri says, he was dumped on a hilltop in Albania.
U.S. officials have never publicly commented on the case, but diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks website show that diplomats in Germany and Macedonia were at pains to keep the case out of the news and the court.
In a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, dated Feb. 6, 2006, then-Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski is cited as promising the U.S. ambassador he would continue to refuse local press requests to discuss the el-Masri case.
Buckovski goes on to ask if the ambassador could speak to his German counterpart, "suggesting that the Germans were putting pressure on the Macedonians to be more forthcoming," according to the cable, which says the ambassador refused.
Another cable originating from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin in 2007 cites the deputy chief of mission, John M. Koenig, as telling the German deputy national security adviser that issuing warrants for the agents "would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship."
El-Masri's lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic, said the leaked documents "clearly show" the "massive efforts" on the part of the U.S. government to keep el-Masri's case out of the courts. He expressed hope they would help him win justice for his client.
"We all know what happened, the question has been how can we prove it?" Gnjidic said.
El-Masri is serving an unrelated two-year prison sentence for attacking the mayor of his home town in 2009.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press.
External link: http://tinyurl.com/2uo3l47