An archive picture from 03.12.2013 shows a sitting of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on alleged CIA 'black sites' in Poland. Photo: PAP/EPA/CHRISTOPHE KARABA
The judgement, which is not final, was announced on Thursday morning by the Court, which found that in both cases, Poland had violated a number of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment as well as the right to a fair trial.
The move comes as in December 2013, Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri, a Saudi of Yemeni descent, and Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, a stateless Palestinian known as Abu Zubaydah – who are still being held by the US at the infamous Guantanamo Bay site – took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, where lawyers alleged that Poland had violated international law by allowing them to be incarcerated and tortured.
In today’s judgement, “The Court found that Poland had cooperated in the preparation and execution of the CIA rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations on its territory and it ought to have known that by enabling the CIA to detain the applicants on its territory, it was exposing them to a serious risk of treatment contrary to the Convention.”
The court slammed Poland for its poor record into the investigations, stating that “A criminal investigation in Poland against persons unknown concerning secret CIA prisons on Polish territory was opened in March 2008. It has been extended a number of times and remains pending.”
“The authorities have not disclosed the exact terms of reference or the precise scope of the investigation,” the statement continues.
Szymany military airport; photo - east news
The court writes that “Both applicants allege that they were victims of an ‘extraordinary rendition’ by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), that is, of apprehension and extrajudicial transfer to a secret detention site in Poland with the knowledge of the Polish authorities for the purpose of interrogation, during which they were tortured. Both men state that in December 2002 they were taken to Poland on board the same ‘rendition plane’.”
The court ordered Poland to pay 100,000 euros to both of the applicants, with an additional 30,000 euros to be paid to Abu Zubaydah for expenses.
Aside from Poland, allegations have been made against Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania that they were part of a network of secret CIA ‘black sites’ where Al-Qaeda suspects were held and subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ by CIA operatives in 2002 and 2003.
Polish authorities have denied the existence of such a CIA ‘black site’ in Poland, including leftist politician Leszek Miller, who was prime minister at the time of the alleged CIA renditions in Poland. (jb)
The full text of the Court’s judgement can be found here [PDF].