Friday 19 April 2019

Poland risks breaching EU court ruling on CIA jail

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is a leading suspect in the bombing of two American embassies and a Navy ship.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is a leading suspect in the bombing of two American embassies and a Navy ship.

Christian Lowe

Poland must de-classify details of an investigation into a secret CIA jail otherwise it will be in breach of a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling.

The ECHR court ruled in February Poland had violated human rights law by allowing the CIA to detain al Qaeda suspects at a facility in a Polish forest where they were tortured, and by not conducting an effective investigation into what happened.

Mikolaj Pietrzak, a lawyer for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was held at the facility, wrote last week to Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and to Polish prosecutors running a criminal investigation into the facility.

In the letter to prosecutors, Pietrzak said he needed proper access to the case files, public disclosure of what steps prosecutors have taken, and a date for when the investigation, under way since 2008, will be concluded.

The letter to Kopacz asks her to instruct government agencies to de-classify materials held by the prosecutors so they can be released to the public.

"Failure to publicly disclose the most important parts of the investigation and to de-classify the relevant materials would be in violation of the ECHR judgment," Pietrzak said.

He said he had been given only limited access to the case files, which deprives his client of the right, set out in law, to be represented effectively.

Kopacz's office did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office handling the case said all efforts were being made to conduct an effective and timely investigation.

He said the parties to the investigation had access to the case files but the nature of the material made it impossible to fully disclose it in public.

Poland was part of a global network of secret sites used by US intelligence to interrogate suspects in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The United States itself, and most of the other countries which took part, have rejected calls for official investigations.

But in Poland, the authorities have come under intense pressure from civil society to acknowledge their role.

The European court ordered Poland to pay a total of €230,000 in compensation to the ex-inmates and to seek assurances that al-Nashiri, now at the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay, will not be sentenced to death.

Poland has said it is making arrangements to pay the compensation, and has sought the assurances from the U.S. government.

A committee of human rights body the Council of Europe, which under international law monitors whether countries implement the court's rulings, is scheduled to consider Poland's case at a meeting in June.


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