February 26, 2014, Paris, New York, Berlin – Today, supported by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali urged a French judge to subpoena a former Guantánamo commander to explain his role in the torture and other serious mistreatment of former detainees. The 14-page expert report submitted to the Investigative Judge of the High Court of Paris (Cour d’Appel de Paris - Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris), details Geoffrey D. Miller’s criminal responsibility related to detainee treatment for torture and war crimes. In the expert report, the rights groups detail acts of torture and other war crimes committed against detainees during 2002-2004, including the torture of CCR client Mohammed al Qahtani.
“This expert report sets out in detail why Geoffrey Miller should be called in to explain his role in the U.S. torture program at Guantánamo,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “That high-level U.S. officials alleged to bear responsible for torture continue to enjoy impunity domestically is a stain on the U.S. system of justice. We hope that this report will be of use in holding officials such as Miller accountable in France, a venue that is willing to investigate torture, and assist in providing some measure of justice to the torture survivors.”
In France, the investigations started after three former Guantánamo detainees, Nizar Sassi, Mourad Benchellali and Khaled Ben Mustapha, lodged a criminal complaint.
In January 2012, following a motion filed by the former detainees’ lawyer William Bourdon, the investigating judge issued a formal request, or “letter rogatory”, to the United States. According to news reports
, the French investigative judge requested access to the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, to relevant documents as well as to all persons who had contact with the three victims during their detention there. The United States still has not replied.
ECCHR legal advisor Andreas Schüller said, “The judiciary in Europe must investigate torture in Guantánamo and elsewhere with all means available. The French judge should not refrain from issuing a subpoena to Geoffrey Miller and to take the next step. There is sufficient evidence accessible even without the support of the USA to proceed with the investigation.”
William Bourdon, lawyer for the French former detainees, adds: “Despite promises, Guantánamo has still not been closed. The United States ignored the letters rogatory, as it was suspected they would. Considering the close relationship that exists between France and the United States, the U.S. should not block Geoffrey Miller’s testimony; he has a lot to say.”
For more information and filings, visit the websites of the CCR
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting civil and human rights. ECCHR focusses on enforcing human rights by legal means. Since its foundation in 2007, ECCHR acted before national prosecution services and courts as well as before the International Criminal Court to bring perpetrators of international crimes to justice. From the very beginning, ECCHR pursued cases against U.S. officials for their responsibility within the U.S. torture and rendition programs. Visit www.ecchr.eu.