By Tom Little.
Tripoli, 13 December:
The UK government today agreed to pay £2.2 million in compensation to Sami Al-Saadi and his family . . .[restrict]over claims that it was involved in their “rendition” from Hong Kong to Libya.
Saadi, founder of the Al-Umma Al-Wasat party and former deputy of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, (LIFG) was appointed Minister of Martyrs and the Missing by Prime Minister Ali Ziedan at the end of October but said less than a week later that he had withdrawn his acceptance of the offer, complaining about the partisan nature of Congress.
He brought a case against the UK after evidence emerged in 2011 which suggested British intelligence had helped to deliver him and his family to Qaddafi’s security services in 2004.
A prominent opponent of Qaddafi, he spent six years in prison in Libya, having been forced back to the country in 2004. He later took part in the 2011 uprising against Qaddafi.
A British government spokesperson confirmed this morning that it had reached a settlement with him but stressed this was not an admission that Saadi’s claims that he was subsequently tortured in detention were true.
“There has been no admission of liability and no finding by any court of liability,” the spokesperson said.
Saadi said he was happy with the settlement, as it would allow him to seek help for injuries he says he suffered in prison.
“My family suffered enough when they were kidnapped and flown to Qaddafi’s Libya.
“They will now have the opportunity to complete their education in the new, free Libya. I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison,” he said.
However, in the statement issued by Reprieve, a legal charity, he also voiced his disappointment that the British government had not admitted responsibility for his rendition.
“Even now, the British government has never given me an answer to the simple question: ‘Were you involved in the kidnapping of me, my wife and children?’ I think the payment speaks for itself,” he said.
Saadi said that he would donate a part of his settlement to other Libyans who were tortured by Qaddafi’s security forces during his 42-year reign.
Abdulhakim Belhaj, former leader of Tripoli Military Council, applauded the payment and saw hope for his own legal action against British government figures for their involvement in his rendition from Malaysia in 2006
In a statement issued by Reprieve, he said: “I intend to fight to ensure the truth is told. I have said before, and I say again now, my wife and I will not allow the truth to be concealed.
“We look forward to giving evidence at trial, and seeing those responsible for our own torture and that of Sami and his family held to account.”