|The Independent today reports that former PM Tony Blair could be called to testify in the cases brought by Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al-Saadi against Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, on charges of complicity in their torture and rendition to Libya.|
From The Independent: “Tony Blair could be cross-examined in court over allegations the UK assisted in illegal renditions, it was claimed yesterday as lawyers for two Libyans began legal proceedings against Jack Straw and a former MI6 director.
“Lawyers for Abdel Hakim Belhadj, 45, and Sami Al Saadi issued formal proceedings at the High Court yesterday against the former Foreign Secretary as well as MI6's ex-director of counter-terrorism, Sir Mark Allen.
“Mr Belhadj, a prominent Gaddafi opponent and now politician, and Mr Al Saadi allege the two men approved their CIA rendition back to Libya in 2004 – along with their wives and children – where they say they were tortured, incarcerated for years and interrogated by agents including, they claim, British ones.
“A spokesman for solicitors Leigh Day & Co said: "The trial could see Tony Blair called to give evidence, under oath, as early as next year."
“Both Mr Blair and Mr Straw have always denied approving or even knowing about the renditions.”
The Times meanwhile reports that the former defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, may face questioning on torture allegations brought by lawyers acting for a Pakistani man who was detained in Iraq and rendered to US special forces by the UK after his capture in an SAS raid.
From the Times report:
“Geoff Hoon could face questioning over war crime allegations if Scotland Yard agrees to investigate the rendition of a Pakistani man to Afghanistan, lawyers said yesterday.
“Amanatullah Ali has been held at Bagram air base for eight years without charge after being seized by British special forces in Iraq, handed over to the US military and illegally flown to Afghanistan.
“Mr Ali was picked up along with Yunus Rahmatullah, a second Pakistani citizen, in an SAS raid south of Baghdad in February 2004, according to Eric Lewis, his lawyer, who is based in Washington DC.
“Mr Lewis has lodged a complaint with the Metropolitan Police against the British Government for its alleged role in the arrest and treatment of Mr Ali, who is said to have suffered torture while in detention.
“Mr Lewis said that Mr Hoon, who was Defence Secretary at the time of the arrests, should be investigated by Scotland Yard as part of an inquiry that would take in all Ministry of Defence and other UK officials connected to the operation. He urged Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, to investigate possible “serious breaches” of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.
““It would have been well known to the UK forces who captured Mr Amanatullah, as well as to the relevant United Kingdom authorities, that US forces were engaging in torture and abuse of prisoners in Iraq at this time,” Mr Lewis wrote in a letter, dated February 28, seen by The Times.
“He added: “If, as appears the case, the British Government turned over our client to the United States at a time when they knew or were wilfully blind to the likelihood of their torture and mistreatment, then it is clear that a crime under the law of war has been committed.””
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