Macedonia slated over rendition ‘torture’

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The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Macedonia 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.

Mr 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 (£48, 000) in damages.

Rights groups called the ruling historic.

“It recognises that the CIA rendition and secret detention system involved torture and enforced disappearances,” said Wilder Tayler, secretary general of the International Committee of Jurists.

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.

Mr El Masri was sent back to Germany, after being flown to Albania, in May, 2004, court documents show.

The European rights court said Macedonian police had arrested Mr El Masri before putting him on a plane to ­
Afghanistan, where he was jailed and treated harshly for nearly four months.