Thursday, May 17, 2012

Justice for Khaled el-Masri

In 2003, Khaled el-Masri, a German car-salesman, was kidnapped by the CIA in Macedonia. He was rendered to a CIA's secret CIA prison in Afghanistan for interrogation, during which he was beaten, tortured, and raped. Why? Because the CIA couldn't spell; they thought he was Khalid al-Masri, al-Qaeda mastermind. When they realised their mistake after four months of torture, they dumped him on a roadside in Albania without funds to return home, let alone an apology.

Now, the Macedonian government is going on trial before the European Court of Human Rights for its complicity in el-Masri's kidnapping and torture:

The grand chamber of the European court of human rights in Strasbourg began hearing a case brought by el-Masri's lawyers which alleges a breach of his European Convention rights to liberty and freedom from torture.

Several other European states are expected to face proceedings before the European court as more details emerge of complicity in acts committed during the US's post-9/11 counter-terrorism operations.

The Macedonian government has insisted that while its police did detain el-Masri, he was later permitted to leave the country for Kosovo. That claim is expected to be contradicted at court by a statement from a former Macedonian government minister.


Inquiries by the Council of Europe and the German Bundestag have also largely corroborated el-Masri's account. In December 2010, US diplomatic cables posted on the internet by WikiLeaks showed that American diplomats persuaded Germany not to seek the extradition of several US officials allegedly involved in el-Masri's rendition, following an investigation by the Bavarian state prosecutor's office.

Its a civil case, so no-one will go to jail. But it will mean that the truth about this crime will finally be officially acknowledged. And that at least will be some justice.