European court fines Macedonia in rendition case

December 14, 2012 - 7:15:24 am

STRASBOURG, France: The European Court of Human Rights condemned Macedonia yesterday for violating the rights of a German citizen by handing him to US secret services, in the first such ruling against a country involved in a CIA “rendition” programme.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled that Macedonia’s government had violated provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights including “facilitating torture” for having arrested Khaled El Masri in 2003 and sent him to a secret US detention facility.

El Masri, of Lebanese origin, said he had been beaten and sodomised after being detained. The Macedonian government was ordered to pay him ¤60,000 euros ($78,000) in damages. 

Rights groups called the ruling historic. “It recognises that the CIA rendition and secret detention system involved torture and enforced disappearances,” Wilder Tayler, Secretary General of the International Committee of Jurists, said in a statement.

The CIA declined to comment.

The practice of “extraordinary rendition” is used to describe a practice in which the CIA would pick up and detain militants without any legal formalities and then deliver them to third countries where they were sometimes ill-treated by local authorities.

German courts have issued 13 arrest warrants for suspected CIA agents involved in similar rendition cases. El Masri was sent back to Germany, after being flown to Albania, in May, 2004, court documents show. 

In its ruling, the European rights court said Macedonian police had arrested El Masri before putting him in a plane under sedatives to be flown to Afghanistan, where he was jailed and treated harshly for nearly four months. Reuters