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Lithuania opts not to contest latest ECHR ruling on CIA prison, to pay damages

Lithuania did not appeal the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling on the unlawful detention of a Saudi national in a suspected secret CIA prison near Vilnius two decades ago.

The ECHR judgement thus became final on April 16.

“The Justice Ministry decided not to appeal the ECHR’s judgment in the case of al-Hawsawi v. Lithuania and not to ask the Grand Chamber of the ECHR to reconsider it,” Paulius Zeimys, the ministry’s spokesman, has told BNS.

In late January, the ECHR awarded 100,000 euros to Mustafa al-Hawsawi for his unlawful detention in the alleged secret facility, and another 30,000 euros to REDRESS, the non-governmental organization that represented the Saudi national.

The Strasbourg court found that al-Hawsawi’s detention in Lithuania had violated various articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, such as the prohibition of torture, the right to a fair trial, the right to life, liberty, and security.

Al-Hawsawi, who is suspected of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, was detained in Pakistan in 2003 and is currently being held at the US Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

According to the ECHR, the man was held in detention in Lithuania between 2005 and 2006.

The ECHR also held that, in the context of this case, Lithuania was under an obligation to approach the US to remedy or mitigate the human rights violations currently being committed against al-Hawsawi, and to seek assurances from the US authorities that he would not be executed.

The court also told Lithuania “to take the necessary active steps in the country’s pre-trial investigation without delay”.

Lithuanian prosecutors opened their investigation into the suspected CIA prison back in 2010, but closed it a year later. However, the probe was reopened in 2015 following a declassified US Senate report in 2014.

The report did not name any specific countries, but human rights activists believe that the site referred to as “Violet” in the report was located in Lithuania.

This evidence was also used by the ECHR.

It was the second case before the Strasbourg court over the alleged CIA prison, both of which Lithuania lost. A third case is currently under consideration.

The ECHR ruled back in 2018 that the CIA had operated a secret detention site in Lithuania between 2005 and 2006 and that Abu Zubaydah, another Saudi national, had been held in the facility.

Lithuania then appealed the judgment, but unsuccessfully. This is one of the reasons why the Justice Ministry opted not to do so in the second case.

Lithuania does not officially acknowledge that the CIA operated a secret detention site for terror suspects on its territory.

The parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense said after its inquiry in 2009 that it had found no evidence that CIA detainees had been brought to Lithuania, but admitted that conditions for that had been present.

Lithuania says that the premises in Antaviliai, near Vilnius, were to be used as an intelligence support center rather than a prison and that the suspicious planes transported communications equipment, not people, to the country.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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