Lithuania under fire in Guantanamo Bay case

  • 2013-10-07
  • TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuania has refused to investigate a high profile case involving a Guantanamo Bay detainee, a leading NGO has said. Amnesty International is calling on authorities to investigate the alleged secret CIA detention and torture, in Lithuania, of Saudi National Mustafa Al-Hawsawi.

But the Prosecutor General has said that they had failed to prove that al-Hawsawi was transported to Lithuania between 2004 and 2006, and illegally detained and tortured there.

Members of the charity met with the Lithuanian authorities recently to discuss the issue.

Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, said: “The Prosecutor General is confusing the role of civil society with his role. It is his job to conduct an effective investigation, comb through the evidence, call witnesses, and perform forensic tests.  The evidence of what happened in Lithuania regarding the secret facility at Antaviliai lies with the state - it was a secret site, after all - and only the Prosecutor can access that information. It is his job to investigate credible allegations, [it’s] not the NGOs’ job to prove them.”

“The rejection of al-Hawsawi’s complaint is not only a violation of Lithuania’s absolute obligation to investigate torture and forced disappearances, it is a disgraceful dereliction of the Prosecutor General’s duty,” added Hall.

The Prosecutor General also referred in the letter to HRMI to the former pre-trial investigation, which ran from January 2010 until January 2011, and focused on rendition flights and two sites that a Lithuanian parliamentary committee claimed had been established by the CIA, with the assistance of Lithuanian security and intelligence officials.

However, the investigation was halted amid claims by authorities that they had not been provided with any evidence that people had been detained in Lithuania and in any event, the investigation was subject to state secrecy.

The investigation was closed after prosecutors claimed that the statute of limitations on the charges against former intelligence officials had run its course. The authorities also refused in September 2011 to investigate allegations by the nongovernmental organization Reprieve that Abu Zubaydah, another Guantanamo Bay detainee, had been held in secret CIA detention in Lithuania in 2005.

The Lithuanian government is currently serving as the President of the European Council.