Djamel Beghal: British and French complicity in tortureWritten by Arnaud Mafille Wednesday, 12 October 2011
On 29 July 2001, Djamel Beghal was detained by the Emirati authorities in Abu Dhabi while on his way to Morocco from Pakistan.
As part of the series of reports called Fabricating Terrorism, Cageprisoners took it upon itself, since 2005, to highlight the extent to which the British authorities had acted unlawfully in the treatment of terrorism suspects held abroad, but more importantly, their complicity in rendition and torture.
This report is an extension of the same theme, as the words of Djamel Beghal expose how not only the British, but also the French authorities were involved in his torture, dating back to just before 9/11.
The case is a horrific reminder of the policies that were used by European countries against those who were suspected of involvement in terrorism.
While the alleged torture described by Beghal is horrific, the consequences of the false confessions obtained by the UAE authorities have had a devastating impact on the lives of dozens of individuals who were linked to the case. Until this very day, there are many who have been given long sentences, simply on the basis of that torture evidence. As recently exposed through Wikileaks, a French counterterrorism judge, Jean-François Ricard, stated that the case of Beghal and those associated with him only led to convictions due to the reputation of the judges, and would never have taken place due to the actual evidence.
Such a clear statement has to be viewed through the lens of the way the War on Terror was prosecuted immediately after 9/11. With the world’s attention on suspected terrorists, it would seem that France constructed an entirely false case against Beghal, thereby proving that they were actively involved in the fight against terrorism.
As further details come to light regarding the way in which these cases were prosecuted, serious questions will need to be asked of the way in which the French investigative judges have acted, in particular Jean-Louis Bruguière. His role specifically has been key in the use of torture evidence due to his presence during the interrogation of suspects abroad.
The UK government’s Detainee Inquiry promised to look into cases where the British security agencies had been involved in rendition and torture. Due to the terms of reference, 9 human rights organisations including Cageprisoners had to withdraw from the process as the Inquiry did not provide enough scope for reasonable accountability and openness. Djamel Beghal’s case is an all too poignant reminder that without true accountability, the lives of many can be destroyed.
Through this report, it is hoped that both the British and French authorities will take stock of their involvement, and reassess the way in which they have treated such men. Beghal’s cases deserves nothing less than a complete re-examination, with the hope he and others will be able to receive some semblance of justice.
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