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Libyan rendition victims offer to settle case for £3

Abdul-Hakim Belhaj offers to settle his case against the Government for £3, an apology and an admission of liability.

4 March 2013

Leigh Day has confirmed that their client, the Libyan politician Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, has offered to drop his case against the Government, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, for £3, an apology and an admission of liability.

Mr Belhaj is taking legal action after evidence came to light suggesting that British intelligence was responsible for a tip-off that led to the capture of both him and his pregnant wife and their subsequent illegal rendition back to Gadaffi’s Libya.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr Straw, and Sir Mark, Mr Belhaj said: "I am making an open offer to settle our litigation.

"My wife and I are willing to end our case against the UK Government and Messrs Straw and Allen in exchange for a token compensation of a British pound from each defendant, an apology and an admission of liability for what was done to us."

He added: "Various media reports I have seen suggest that our motive for bringing this case is to enrich ourselves. I wish to lay this misconception to rest.

Sapna Malik from law firm Leigh Day, who represents Mr Belhaj and his wife, said: "Mr Belhaj and his wife, Fatima, were motivated to bring their case to the UK, not for money, but because they believed the British courts would deliver a fair trial and hold to account those responsible for their rendition and torture.

"They are now offering a swift resolution to their claim, which would deliver what is most important to them, apologies and admissions of wrong doing."

In 2004 Mr Belhaj was leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, opposing the Libyan dictator, when American intelligence officers at Bangkok airport in Thailand detained him and his wife.

The couple were rendered by US authorities to Libya out of Bangkok. Mr Belhaj was hooded and shackled to the floor of the plane in a stress position, unable to sit or lie during the entire 17-hour flight. In Libya Mr Belhaj was detained for six years in some of the country’s most brutal jails and was interrogated by ‘foreign’ agents, including some from the UK.

He was savagely beaten, hung from walls and cut off from human contact and daylight before being sentenced to death during a 15-minute trial about four years in to his detention. The beatings and inhumane treatment continued until 2010 when he was eventually released.

Ms Bouchar was imprisoned in Libya for four months. She was released just three weeks before giving birth, by which time her health, and that of her baby, was in a precarious state.

Reprieve legal director Cori Crider said: "What our clients want from the Government is an admission, an apology and an explanation of how this was allowed to happen.

"It is time to put the ghosts of Tony Blair's toxic 'deal in the desert' with Gaddafi to rest, and this is the perfect opportunity for David Cameron to do so.

"Fatima Boudchar and Abdul-Hakim Belhaj are asking for justice - and the token 'payment' will cost the PM the price of his latte.

"The next time the Government repeats its mantra that secret courts will save the public purse, remember: this family was willing to walk away for £3."

Sapna Malik concluded: “This settlement should bring the cases against the Government, Sir Mark Allen and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to a resolution.

“We expect a swift response from the Government's lawyers so that we can avoid any Court action, and save further expense to the taxpayer".

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