UK says inquiry could probe Libya torture reports

Mon Sep 5, 2011 11:59am GMT
 

LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - A British inquiry into whether its security services knew about the torture of terrorism suspects overseas should investigate allegations involving Britain's dealings with Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, the government said on Monday.

Documents found in the abandoned Tripoli office of Gaddafi's intelligence chief indicate U.S. and British spy agencies helped Gaddafi persecute Libyan dissidents, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to respond to allegations of potential British complicity in torture in Libya in a statement to parliament at 1430 GMT on Monday, his spokesman said.

The spokesman said an inquiry set up by the government last year to investigate whether its security services knew about the torture of terrorism suspects on foreign soil could choose to look into the new Libyan allegations.

That inquiry, led by Commissioner for the Intelligence Services and former appeal court judge Peter Gibson, is mainly looking at the cases of suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.

"It is certainly open for that inquiry to consider other cases where serious allegations are made," Cameron's spokesman told reporters.

"It is not clear precisely what the allegations amount to ... which is precisely why an inquiry, the Gibson inquiry, might be well placed to consider the issue properly," he said.

He said the papers found in Tripoli related to Britain's previous Labour government, in power for 13 years before it lost an election last year. "Current ministers wouldn't have access to those papers," he said.

The documents were uncovered by the human rights group in the abandoned offices of Libya's former spy chief and foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, who fled to London during the war before promptly leaving again. He is reported to have gone to Qatar.

The current military commander for Tripoli of Libya's provisional government, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, was among those captured and sent to Libya by the CIA, Human Rights Watch said.

Belhadj has said that he was tortured by CIA agents before being transferred to Libya, where he says he was then tortured at Tripoli's notorious Abu Salim prison. (Reporting by Adrian Croft)

 
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.