25 October 2011
Leigh Day & Co are representing Sami al-Saadi and his family who have launched legal proceedings against the British government and its intelligence agencies claiming they were complicit in the kidnap and detention in a Libyan prison of the entire family.
Mr al-Saadi’s eldest child, Khadija, now 19, told the Guardian newspaper that she feared they would all be killed after Mr al-Saadi along with his wife Karima and four children, aged between six and 12 at the time were flown from Hong Kong to Tripoli in March 2004 and held for months at one of Gaddafi's prisons. Mr al-Saadi claims he was tortured whilst he was imprisoned for six years.
The Guardian also reveals the secret documents that show British intelligence officials believe the capture and rendition of al-Saadi and his associate, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), boosted al-Qaida and undermined Britain's mission in Iraq.
Khadija al-Saadi told the Guardian how she and her two younger brothers, Mostapha and Anes, then aged 11 and nine, and six-year-old sister Arowa, were separated from their parents before being put on board the aircraft and didn't know that their patents were actually on the flight until just before it landed in Libya.
Khadija said: “I wasn't allowed to talk to my brothers or sister, and my brothers weren't allowed to play games, because they thought they might be using sign language."
"After a while I was allowed to go into the next compartment and see my mother. She was crying. She told me they were taking us to Libya. Initially, I didn't believe it. Then I realised it was true, and I was very scared. I thought that my mother and father were going to be tortured and that we would all be killed. Then I was told to go and say goodbye to my father. He was handcuffed to a seat in another compartment and had a drip in his arm. One of the Libyan intelligence officers was laughing at me. I fainted."
When the aircraft landed in Tripoli her mother and father were taken off, hooded and their legs bound with wire. Mostapha and Anes were blindfolded. The entire family was then driven in a convoy of vehicles to a prison at Tajoura, east of Tripoli.
Mr al-Saadi's wife and children were released after two and a half months and cared for by relatives.
The family's solicitor, Richard Stein, Head of the Human Rights team at Leigh Day & Co said: "At a time when Cameron was invoking Gaddafi's victims it is important to remember the al-Saadi family. They were only victims of Gaddafi because of the complicity of the Blair government. At this time it is particularly important that the British government deals with it own role in these events and apologises immediately and unreservedly to Khadija and the rest of her family."
Sapna Malik from Leigh Day & Co added: "The treatment of this family was truly inhumane. Bundling four young children on to a rendition flight to their nemesis, without even allowing them the small comfort of knowing their parents were on board was cruel beyond belief. The UK government must act quickly to rectify the wrongs which were done."
Cori Crider, of the legal charity Reprieve, which is also advising the family, added: "The bitter irony is that the very week Libya threw off dictatorship and the yoke of the secret police, Ken Clarke proposed to shroud British justice in secrecy. How would he explain to Khadija that her fate should be discussed behind closed doors? The UK must not mimic this toxic US practice
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