For Immediate Release
Reprieve's London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org
Government Seeks Secret Trial in MI6 ‘Rendition’ Case
LONDON - The Government will apply for a secret hearing in a challenge to a prosecution decision for the first time in a case stemming from the involvement of a senior MI6 officer in the abduction and ‘rendition’ of two families to Gaddafi’s Libya, it emerged today.
The move came today in a hearing in the case of Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar. The couple were seized and ‘rendered’ to Gaddafi’s Libya in 2004 in a joint CIA-MI6-Libyan operation. Last June, after Scotland Yard recommended that criminal charges be brought, the Crown Prosecution Service declined to charge the lead suspect - former MI6 official Sir Mark Allen. The couple are challenging the decision.
The Foreign Secretary and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, are seeking to avoid the public disclosure of documents detailing the reasons it was decided not to prosecute. At the High Court today, lawyers for the DPP and the Foreign Office said they would apply to have the entire challenge heard in secret.
Presiding, Lord Chief Justice Thomas expressed surprise at the DPP’s approach to the victims, saying: "I have never seen a case like this where the DPP has refused, in effect, to set out proper reasons you’re not prosecuting.” He added: “If this was a murder case or a rape case, it would be inconceivable that the position taken by your client would be taken.”
The Foreign Office and DPP will now apply to withhold the decision documents from the victims by means of a controversial ‘section 6’ application under the Justice and Security Act 2013. This has never before been done in a judicial review relating to a criminal prosecution decision. The 2013 Act specifically excludes “criminal cause or matter” from areas where a wholly secret trial is available to Government.
Commenting, Cori Crider, lawyer for the couple at the human rights organization Reprieve, said:
“We already knew MI6 and the Foreign Office were desperate to keep this case out of open court, but British prosecutors are meant to be independent – especially when they are investigating senior UK officials. DPP Alison Saunders’ approach has been to adopt the Foreign Office’s line wholesale, giving the victims no reasons, no evidence, and – as the Lord Chief Justice put it today – no facts about her decision not to prosecute. If our top prosecutor really cares about justice being done, she will let the victims see the evidence, and ensure that Sir Mark Allen answers in court for his actions.”
This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.
Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.