Germany must enforce criminal prosecution of CIA agents and demand an apology and compensation for CIA victim El Masri
15 December 2014 -The ECCHR has sent a letter to the Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas (Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD), calling on the German government to request the extradition of thirteen former CIA-employees wanted by arrest warrants as well as to enforce the rights of CIA-victim and German citizen Khaled El Masri to a formal apology and reparation by the USA. ECCHR claims in its letter that the German government must request a formal apology and compensation to El Masri by the USA, if the German Federal Office of Justice still refuses to ask the USA for extradition. The Senat's report on CIA torture shows that the rendition of El Masri was by no means an exception but part of a systematic rendition and torture program. Germany must stand up for the law as an effective answer to significant forms of violence and torture.
The El Masri case
The case of El Masri is one of the best documented extraordinary renditions by the CIA. Several inquiry commissions took up this case and a number of lawsuits were filed before different national and regional courts. However, El Masri has not been granted any form of reparation or official apology for his kidnapping and mistreatment up to date by any of the involved states.
ECCHR filed a complaint in Germany to an administrative court seeking to enforce thirteen arrest warrants against former CIA officials, which were involved in El Masri’s abduction in Skopje and flight to Kabul. The German government, however, refused to officially ask the US for extradition of the indicted persons. The lawsuit was rejected on the merits by the Cologne administrative court. Arrest warrants for the CIA employees were previously issued by Munich District Court on 31 January 2007 due to strong suspicions of grievous bodily harm and deprivation of liberty. Another criminal investigation is still on-going in Spain.
ECCHR also supported a case brought against Macedonia before the European Court of Human Rights by the Open Society Justice Initiative. On 13 December 2012, the ECtHR ruled in favor of Khaled El Masri, finding that his treatment by CIA-agents amounted to torture and that Macedonia illegally detained him and failed in investigating and prosecuting the case. The Court found El Masri’s witness statements credible and convicted Macedonia to pay 60,000 Euros as reparation.
The case and judicial actions has also been an issue for the US diplomacy. Several cables from US embassy leaked by Wikileaks show the pressure the US exercised on various European states in avoiding judicial actions and lawsuits’ enforcement.
More information on the El Masri case: