Britain to Pay Settlements to Prisoners Tortured by US

November 19th, 2010 - by admin

Janet Stobart / Los Angeles Times – 2010-11-19 00:05:56

Guantanamo Bay Ex-prisoners, Britain Reach Deal
Janet Stobart / Los Angeles Times

LONDON (November 17, 2010) — Several former Guantanamo Bay detainees who sued Britain for alleged complicity in their torture will receive unspecified settlement payments from the government, officials said Tuesday.

The former prisoners accused Britain’s spy agency, MI5, and the country’s overseas intelligence service, MI6, of violating international law by doing nothing to stop the torture the detainees suffered at the hands of others at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. British agents were not accused of torturing the detainees.

Although British officials did not specify how many former detainees would receive settlements, 16 former prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other overseas detention centers were expected to receive payments based on the accusations of at least 12 of them, according to BBC and other reports.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said to Parliament that mediated settlements had been reached. The confidentiality of such agreements is legally binding, therefore details would not be made public, Clarke said.

The settlements are expected to total millions of dollars, according to media reports quoting confidential sources.

British intelligence officials said in a statement that the settlements would allow MI5 and MI6 to concentrate on “protecting national security.”

The former detainees include Binyam Mohamed, Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga, who were all imprisoned in Guantanamo. Some were also held in Afghanistan, Morocco and Egypt as terrorist suspects but were released after years of detention.

The men sued in Britain’s High Court claiming British intelligence services masterminded their rendition and transport to various locations including Guantanamo and subsequent torture. Waterboarding and beating were among methods used, they said, with one ex-prisoner claiming he lost sight in one eye after severe rubbing with a pepper-drenched cloth.

Clarke said the settlements avoided lengthy and expensive court proceedings. The government reportedly did not admit liability, and the detainees did not withdraw their allegations.

(c) 2010 Hearst Communications Inc.

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