A three-day hearing begins in the High Court today (21 October) in the case being brought against the UK Government, MI6 and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over their role in the kidnap and rendition of an anti-Gaddafi dissident and his pregnant wife.
The case is brought by Abdul-Hakim Belhadj and his wife Fatima Boudchar, and concerns their 2004 ‘rendition’ in a joint CIA-MI6-Liyban operation, resulting in the imprisonment and torture of Mr Belhadj.
The UK’s role came to light after the fall of Gaddafi, when documents were found in Tripoli which showed MI6’s Sir Mark Allen congratulating Libyan spy chief Moussa Koussa on the "safe arrival" of the "air cargo," which pointed out that "the intelligence [on Mr Belhadj] was British."
The UK Government will argue that the case should be thrown out because it may damage UK-US relations and is beyond the power of British judges to hear.
Government lawyers have also indicated that they will seek to shunt the case into new secret courts, known as ‘Closed Material Procedures’. These only became available following the introduction of the controversial Justice and Security Act earlier this year.
Strategic Direstor of the legal charity Reprieve, Cori Crider said: “The kidnap of Abdul-Hakim Belhadj and his pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar is surely one of the most shameful incidents of the ‘War on Terror.’ Yet instead of coming clean and apologising – which is all Mr Belhadj and his wife are looking for – the Government is fighting tooth and nail to stop the case case coming to trial."
Sapna Malik, Partner at law firm Leigh Day who is representing Mr Belhaj and his wife said: “This is the latest attempt by the UK Government to deploy dubious legal arguments and political scaremongering to defer having to answer the simple allegations at the heart of this case – to stand up in Court and admit what the UK’s role was in this sordid affair and who authorised it. All our clients want to hear is the truth followed by an apology. This would cost much less than the expensive delaying tactics the Government is using to fight this case.”