European court ruling embarrassing for Poland - President
July 25, 2014
Fenced military area in a forest in Stare Kiejkuty
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski on Thursday said that the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that Poland had violated European torture and inhumane treatment laws was "embarrassing for Poland" and damaging to its image.
ECHR in Strasbourg, France ruled Thursday that Poland violated the European human rights convention by allowing the CIA to render two alleged terrorists on its territory.
The court held that Poland had co-operated with the secret illegal transfers in 2002-2003, allowing two alleged members of al-Qaeda, a Saudi Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and a Palestinian Abu Zubaydah, to be interrogated at a secret "black site" prison on Polish soil.
The judges said that Poland failed to stop the "torture and inhuman or degrading treatment" to which the applicants had been subjected by the CIA during their detention in Poland.
The case was filed by Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, who complained to the court that they had been taken to a secret CIA “black site” in Stare Kiejkuty, northern Poland and subjected to treatment which amounted to torture. Nashiri was held there for six months and Abu Zubaydah for nine. They were later taken to Guantanamo Bay, where they remain.
The court also said that Poland had failed to conduct an effective and thorough investigation into the matter.
It ordered Poland to pay al-Nashiri EUR 100,000 in damages and EUR 130,000 to Zubaydah.
The statement issued by the Presidential Chancellery said that the responsibility for the situation should be addressed to people who held power in Poland at the time.
The Polish President at the time Aleksander Kwasniewski and the then Prime Minister Leszek Miller repeatedly denied such prisons existed in the country.
Miller slammed the court's decision as "unjust and immoral" and said it would be absurd for Poland to pay a fine to "murderers."
"It's unjust because it is based on rumors, speculation and slander. Material that Polish authorities sent to the court was rejected and not considered by the court," Miller said. "It's immoral because the tribunal put the rights of murderers above the rights of victims."
Asked if he knew at the time that the CIA was operating a site where it tortured suspects, he said: "I have said many times that such a prison did not exist and I have nothing more to say on the matter."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski said the ruling was premature and that Poland should have been given the chance to make its own ruling first. He added that Poland had been unable to present some classified evidence to the court because of national-security concerns.
He also said the government may appeal Thursday's verdict
The ECHR decision is not final and can still be challenged at the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.