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Published: 27 march 2012 15:27

Amnesty International slams Lithuania for sloppy CIA prison investigation

Julia Hall
L.Kulbis / Julia Hall

International non-governmental organization Amnesty International reproached Lithuania and the Nordic countries for failing to put sufficient effort into investigating their alleged participation in secret U.S. detention and rendition program involving transportation and imprisonment of suspected terrorists.

During hearings held on Tuesday in the European Parliament, representatives of Amnesty International and Reprieve said that European countries lack political will to carry out in-depth investigations despite new evidence emerging in recent years.

Amnesty International expert Julia Hall reminded that Lithuania's Prosecutor General's Office refused to resume a pre-trial investigation last fall despite new information that Abu Zubaydah might have been brought to Lithuania on a 2005 flight from Morocco.

"They refused, incredibly stating that the new information was simply not enough to trigger the resurrection of the investigation," Hall said during the hearings in Brussels.

She also said that Finland refused to launch an in-depth investigation into flights linked to the U.S. secret detention and rendition program and flights to Lithuania, despite having made a lot of documents public.

According to Hall, Denmark, currently holding the rotating Presidency of the European Union, has also refused to carry out an investigation into flights related to the U.S. program, despite the fact that a Bucharest-Palanga-Copenhagen flight was mentioned in the conclusions of a parliamentary investigation in Lithuania. Hall said an ongoing investigation in Denmark is of limited character.

Hall also mentioned Norway whose authorities disclosed information last month about flights between Bergen and Oslo mentioned in the context of the U.S. secret detention and rendition program. But the country was satisfied with the U.S. explanation that there's nothing suspicious.

" The Norwegian authorities have simply claimed that the U.S. government has assured them that there is nothing questionable about the flights. And the authorities in Oslo declined to investigate further," Hall said. "The Scandinavian connection to the CIA rendition and secret detention operations does remain woefully under-researched and under-investigated," she added.

Meanwhile chairman of the Lithuanian Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, Arvydas Anušauskas, who had been invited to the EP hearings, said he could not come due to a parliamentary plenary sitting but he informed the EP about his committee's conclusions.

In a letter to Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, chairman of the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Anušauskas said that two premises were equipped in Lithuania but no people were kept in detention there.

"Upon a request from the CIA, conditions were created for holding a detainee in Lithuania.

"Secondly, according to data available to the Committee, no people were detained and/or ill-treated in that place. Finally, conditions for transportation of CIA detainees through the territory of the Republic of Lithuania did exist, but the Committee could not establish whether such transportation took place," Anušauskas said in his letter.

Lithuania launched an investigation into CIA prison allegations in the country following reports by U.S. TV channel ABC News in 2009 about a secret CIA prison situated in Antaviliai area near Vilnius. A secret parliamentary probe carried out in Lithuania showed that CIA-related planes entered Lithuania's airspace in 2003-2006 several times. The investigations failed, however, to identify if any suspect terrorist were actually brought to Lithuania.

Following the parliamentary investigation, Lithuanian prosecutors opened an investigation but terminated the probe last January, with prosecutor Mindaugas Dūda saying hat there was no sufficient evidence to claim that premises in Vilnius and near the city had been equipped for detention of prisoners.

Former heads of Lithuania's secret services deny the fact that a CIA prison could have operated in Lithuania.

Naujienų agentūros BNS informaciją atgaminti visuomenės informavimo priemonėse bei interneto tinklalapiuose be raštiško UAB „BNS“ sutikimo draudžiama.
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