AI Index: EUR 23/001/2005 (Public)
News Service No: 227
18 August 2005
Germany: Hamburg court violates international law by admitting evidence potentially obtained through torture
[See comments by Elias Davidsson at the End]
Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the Hamburg Supreme Court (Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht) decided on 14 June 2005 to accept evidence which may have been obtained through torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (ill-treatment) in flagrant violation of its obligations under international law to investigate complaints of torture and to exclude any statement made as the result of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The statements have been given by USA intelligence officials to German authorities in the form of summaries of interrogations of three persons suspected of “terrorist” activities held at unknown locations by USA authorities. These three individuals are reported to be Ramzi Binalshibh, Mohamed Ould Slahi and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The statements are to be used in a re-trial of Mounir al-Motassadeq. The prosecution accuses Mounir al-Motassadeq of belonging to a terrorist group and of having assisted the hijackers of the aeroplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 and killed over 3,000 people.
If the statements used in the trial have been obtained through torture, they are not admissible as evidence in legal proceedings according to Article 15 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Germany is a party. Furthermore, Germany would be in breach of Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which both include the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The court has decided to accept the statements as evidence as it claims that it cannot be proven that they were obtained through torture or other ill-treatment. Although human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as journalists and almost all released detainees, have repeatedly reported on numerous allegations of torture and other ill-treatment reported from detention centres in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guant