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Guantanamo Claims Before EU Court of Human Rights

March 14, 2008

Today, six Guantanamo Bay prisoners, whose case was heard by the US Supreme Court in December, filed claims in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian authorities failed for many years to take any steps to negotiate and secure the men’s release from Guantanamo. The claims address the torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment the men have suffered during the six years since they were illegally delivered by Bosnia to US forces and taken to Guantanamo.

The filings describe in chilling detail the indignities, injuries, torture and terror inflicted by US military personnel on the six men in the course of their imprisonment at Guantanamo. Accompanying medical opinions describe the resulting destruction of their physical and mental health. Beginning with a 30 hour flight on which he was shackled and blindfolded, and through the ensuing years when he has been subjected to extended periods of sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, assault during interrogation and threats of rape, Mr. Boumediene, like the 5 others, has suffered life shattering physical and mental injuries.

Mr. Ait Idir, who was taken from his pregnant wife in violation of a Bosnian court order to free him, detailed multiple beatings by rogue guards, extended periods of isolation from other prisoners and multiple occasions when he was openly denied needed medical treatment. In one especially gruesome attack, Mr. Ait Idir describes how, while his hands and feet were tied, rogue guards stuffed a flowing hose into his mouth, repeatedly slammed his head and torso into steel and concrete surfaces, lowered his face and head into a toilet and inflicted blows of such force that his head and face were paralyzed for months.

The claims for just satisfaction are the next step for Messrs Boumediene and Ait Idir, and for Belkacem Bensayah, Hadj Boudella, Saber Lahmar, and Mohammed Nechla following their September 2007 applications to the European Court to declare Bosnia in violation of its obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. In January 2002, the six were illegally rendered by Bosnia at the same time and since then, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina have abandoned the six men. They are represented by the same team of WilmerHale attorneys, Steven Oleskey, Rob Kirsch, Yves Van Gerven, Doug Curtis, Mark Fleming, Lisa Arsenidou, Manique S. Wijewardena Bloom, Jeffrey Gleason, Lauren Brunswick, Jenna Goldenberg, Jeremy Robbins, Lynn Campbell Soutter and Paul Winke.