Belgium: Former Guantanamo detainee sues government

Belgium: Former Guantanamo detainee sues government

Het Laatste Nieuws meanwhile reports that Zemmouri has become the rising star of the British extremist group, 'Cageprisoners'. They officially stand up for human rights, but are also enamored by imam Anwar Al-Awlaki , who is considered by many to be the new Osama bin Laden and an advocate of Jihad. In September 2008 he led the prayers from the podium at their annal charity even in London.

In May 2009, the Belgian authorities dropped the proceedings against him.


A Belgian who was held in the American prison-camp of Guantanamo for more than three years wants to sue the Belgian state. According to his lawyer, the state should have intervened since the circumstances in the camp were 'degrading'.

Moussa Zemmouri comes from Antwerp and was 28 when in 2001 he fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, all foreigners who were in Afghanistan at that moment were considered suspect. In Pakistan, the local police 'sold' Moussa to the American security services.

They brought him to Guantanamo, the notorious prison camp for terrorism suspects in Cuba. There he was locked up for more than 3 years. Moussa says he was roughly mishandled. "During interrogation you were always beat with the elbow, even with a stool. They threatened you and said that they'll kill you." In 2005 he was freed, without ever being officially charged.

According to his lawyer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, the government responded too slowly and did too little for him. "The Belgian government knew that the circumstances in which was staying were degrading and should have thus intervened," according to Steenbrugge, who also said that once Zemmouri returned to Belgium, he was prosecuted. A complaint was lodged also by the American and Pakistani governments.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Steven Vanackere (CD&V) took note of the complaints that Moussa wants to lodge. He points out that the Belgian government took intense steps vis-a-vis the American government, in order to free the man involved from Guantanamo, reaching a high political level.

Belgian officials the consul in Washington paid several visits to the man in Guantanamo, according to Vanackere.

The two Belgian who were freed from Guantanamo in 2005, including the man involved, were part of the first group of prisoners who were freed, added the minister.

Sources: HLN, VRT (Dutch)

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