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#Rendition: Pakistani citizen sues UK Ministry of Defence for ‘BRUTAL’ torture in Iraq

A Pakistani citizen is suing Britain’s Ministry of Defense and Foreign Office for complicity in torture and abuse he endured over a ten year period beginning 2004.

Yunus Rahmatullah’s lawyers say the UK is responsible for his illegal rendition and detention at British and subsequently US-run prisons in Afghanistan.

In court documents, Mr Rahmatullah, 31, alleges “brutal” torture and “inhumane” treatment dealt him after his capture in Iraq by UK special forces in 2004.

Shortly after the detention, Rahmatullah was stationed with American troops.

He was subsequently transferred to Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison before being sent to Bagram jail in Afghanistan.

In a statement of claim, Mr Rahmatullah’s lawyers argue he was beaten unconscious and stripped using a pair of scissors to shred his clothes.

Later on, a soldier poured water on Rahmatullah’s face, after covering his mouth and nose with a cloth to create a “sensation of drowning”.

While hooded and chained, the man lost consciousness and was forcefully attacked and hurled against a wall, documents reveal.

The 31 year-old was also hung upside down and “repeatedly dunked into a tank of water”.

At one particular juncture, he was taken into a room and presented with a distressing scene of “six or seven naked detainees piled on top of each other,” the documents note.

On one occasion, Yunus was wrapped tightly in duct tape from head to toe, according to his lawyers.

He was also allegedly kept in solitary confinement in an unsanitary cell populated with rats and cockroaches, and denied any form of daylight for years.

Following his decision to protest this inhumane treatment with a hunger strike, Rahmatullah was force-fed on six different occasions.

Other than restricted communication with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives, he had absolutely no contact with the external word – including his own family – until 2010.

British special forces’ decision to hand Rahmatullah over to US soldiers – who covertly transferred him to Afghanistan – defied an international law agreement signed by the US and Britain.

The agreement highlights the rights of war prisoners and civilian detainees as outlined in the Geneva Conventions.

Rahmatullah’s lawyers condemned British authorities’ treatment of their client. The UK government’s “servants and agents” were “recklessly indifferent to the illegality of their actions,” they told the high court.

The former captive is believed to have first been detained at Camp Nama, a secret prison facility in Baghdad that British troops helped to run.

Initially a covert operation, his capture wasn’t disclosed to British MPs until 2009.  Rahmatullah was released without charge by American authorities in May 2014.

In 2011, Britain’s court of appeal ruled that Yunus had been unlawfully detained and ordered a writ of habeas corpus to be issued – the ancient British right to be released from arbitrary detention.

However, in the Supreme Court the UK government’s lawyers subsequently argued that British ministers had no power to ensure Rahmatullah was released from Bagram.

They were successful in their case.

Kat Craig, legal director at the rights charity Reprieve, said: “Yunus Rahmatullah has been through 10 years of frankly unimaginable horror. Now that he has finally been able to speak freely to his lawyers, there is no longer any doubt that the British government bears responsibility for his torture and illegal rendition to Bagram”.

“Yunus was robbed of ten years in the prime of his life; a time when he wanted to find a career, choose a partner and build a family”, she added.

“The government must now come clean about the full extent of British involvement in this disgraceful episode in our history – only then will Yunus be able to move on and try to rebuild his life”.

The British government claims Yunus’ case is currently under state investigation.

But Yunus’ lawyer, Rosa Curling, expressed serious doubt over these claims.

“The UK government states it is investigating our client’s allegations of wrongdoing by UK soldiers. However, to date, the UK government has refused to investigate its role in the decision taken to transfer our client in to US custody, when it knew there was a real risk such a transfer would expose him to torture, mistreatment and abuse”, she said on Tuesday.

Curling sharply criticized British authorities’ treatment of Yunus, emphasizing he was unlawfully transferred to the US base.

The UK government’s subsequent failure to initiate proper steps to ensure he was returned safely is utterly unacceptable, according to Curling.

“This case exposes a catalogue of errors on the part of the Brits, which have ruined a young man’s life,” she insists.

According to Reprieve, Mr Rahmatullah was raised in the Gulf before travelling to Iraq in 2004 to find work following the end of the US-led war.

He was arrested by British forces at a house he was sharing with several Pakistani citizens on the outskirts of Baghdad.

In February 2009, after years of government denials that the UK had been involved in any rendition operations, then-Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton announced to Parliament that UK forces had captured two men – known as ‘Prisoner A’ and ‘Prisoner B’ – in Iraq in February 2004 and handed them to US forces.

In December 2011, the British government revealed it had asked US authorities to release Mr Rahmatullah.  However, the US has thus far refused saying it is “negotiating Yunus’ repatriation to Pakistan”.

In October 2012, the UK Supreme Court held that Yunus’ transfer and detention, long after hostilities in Iraq had ceased, may constitute a war crime under international law; a war crime facilitated by the UK military.

According to Reprieve, Mr Rahmatullah was released in May and remains in a “catastrophic mental and physical shape” although he has been able to communicate with his lawyers.

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