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Subpoena former Guantánamo commander, French nationals ask judge

28th Mar 2014

Subpoena former Guantánamo commander, French nationals ask judge

Major Gen. Geoffrey Miller who was also in command of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq is accused of using authorized and systematic plan of torture by two former French Guantánamo detainees

Elham Asaad Buaras

Two former Guantánamo Bay detainees have asked a French judge on February 27 to subpoena a former prison commander they accuse of overseeing their alleged torture.

Lawyers for French citizens, Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali, who were held in Guantánamo from late 2001 to 2004, accused retired Major General, Geoffrey Miller, of “an authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment on persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without the basic rights of any detainee.”

The two men submitted an expert report along with Khaled Ben Mustapha, another former inmate, to the Criminal Court in Paris. The document is backed by rights groups The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and details “an authorized and systematic plan of torture and ill-treatment on persons deprived of their freedom without any charge and without the basic rights of any detainee.”

Miller, who was commander of the prison from 2002 to 2004, “bears individual criminal responsibility for the war crimes and acts of torture inflicted on detainees in US custody at Guantanamo and in Iraq” at the Abu Ghraib prison while it was run by the American military, according to the report.

Just before Miller became commander of Guantánamo in late 2002, the Bush Administration approved “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including placing detainees in stress positions, stripping them, isolating them for extended periods of time and exposing them to extreme heat and cold.Miller then implemented these methods.

“Under MG Miller’s command at Guantánamo, these techniques continued to be used in certain cases,” the detainees’ lawyers said. “These acts constitute torture and violate, at a minimum, the Geneva Conventions prohibition on coercive interrogations.”

Investigating magistrate Sophie Clement issued a formal request to the US Government in January 2012 for access to Guantanamo, relevant documents in the case and all persons who had contact with Sassi, Benchellali and Ben Mustapha during their detention. But the men’s lawyers said the US had yet to reply.

In his book Detainees In Despair Benchellali described the injustice of Guantánamo: “As analysis of the military’s documents on the prisoners has shown, there is no evidence that most of the 465 or so men there have committed hostile acts against the United States or its allies. Even so, what I heard so many times resounding from cage to cage, what I said myself so many times in my moments of complete despondency, was not, ‘Free us, we are innocent!’ but ‘Judge us for whatever we’ve done!’ There is unlimited cruelty in a system that seems to be unable to free the innocent and unable to punish the guilty.”

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