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Secret court to consider open hearings in Libyan torture case

The IPT will consider a number of demandson behalf of Libyan politician to protect his and his wife's right to a fair trial

Mr Belhaj and his wife were rendered back to Gadaffi

30 January 2014

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) will today consider a number of demands made by lawyers acting on behalf of Libyan politician Abdelhakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar, to protect their right to a fair trial.

Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar claim they were kidnapped and ‘rendered’ to Libya in a joint MI6-CIA operation in 2004. The IPT is currently hearing a complaint brought by Mr Belhaj and Ms Boudchar, who are supported by legal charity Reprieve and represented by law firm Leigh Day, concerning eavesdropping by the security services on their confidential communications with their lawyers.

Such eavesdropping would be a serious breach of their right to a fair trial in the case they have brought against the UK Government concerning its role in facilitating their rendition and torture. Today’s hearing will clarify the future procedure for closed and open hearings after the IPT held a closed hearing in December 2013 without informing either the complainants or their legal team.

Leigh Day threatened the IPT with Judicial Review in the courts if today’s hearing did not take place.

Rosa Curling a lawyer in the Human Rights team at Leigh Day said: “This case concerns the right of our clients to speak to us, their lawyers, without the government listening in to our communications.

"In its determination of our clients' case, the Investigative Powers Tribunal must change its approach to hearings. Except where there is a real risk to national security, all hearings held by the Tribunal must be open, with members of the public able to attend.

"As the Tribunal with oversight of the intelligence services, the IPT must comply and uphold the fundamental principles of open and equal justice.”

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