London – CAGE welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), declaring that Belgium committed a human rights violation by extraditing Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian national, to the United States in October 2013.
“Trabelsi’s extradition was nothing short of a legalised rendition,” said Asim Qureshi of CAGE. “He had already served a 10-year sentence on controversial terrorism charges in Belgium when the Belgians handed him over to the FBI in 2013 at Melsbroek military airport in violation of an earlier ECHR ruling.”
Trabelsi was ostensibly being transferred from Bruges Prison to Ittre Prison, when the convoy took a detour to Melsbroek, from where he was taken to Virginia, US. This, despite a 2011 ECHR ruling granting his request for ‘an interim measure’ to block his extradition.
Nizar Trabelsi, a 45-year-old former professional soccer player, was arrested in Belgium in the days following 9/11. He served his sentence in solitary confinement, despite numerous medical reports highlighting its damaging effects on his mental state.
Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment has said that Trabelsi’s solitary prison conditions constitute torture.
CAGE has the following statements to make:
“There is no evidence suggesting that the allegations he faces in the US are any different from those for which he was convicted and imprisoned. He has already been sentenced to, and served, in Belgium,” says Asim Qureshi of CAGE.
“This means he is effectively being held twice for the same allegations in two different jurisdictions, the involvement of a state at the heart of the EU makes this case a travesty of justice taking place in Guantanamo-like legal vacuum.”
“Trabelsi’s rendition and solitary confinement without trial in the US follows similar cases such as that of British-born Mahdi Hashi, and the late Abu Anas al Libi, where governments, despite insisting they uphold the law, have violated basic human rights.”
“Both the Belgian and US governments acted in defiance of the interim ruling of the European Court of Human Rights and international law . This is a clear signal that after more than a decade of breaching all accepted international norms and standards, it’s business as usual for the US and its partners.”
(CC image courtesy of Wikipedia user CherryX)
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)