Spain Drops Extradition Attempt Against Guantanamo Torture Pair
By Paul Hamilos and Vikram Dodd
Spain yesterday dropped its attempt to extradite two British residents who had been freed from Guantanamo Bay, after accepting that torture they suffered during five years of American custody had left them too weak to stand trial.
Jamil el-Banna, 45, and Omar Deghayes, 38, who were accused of being members of an al-Qaida cell in Madrid, were detained on their return to Britain in December on a European arrest warrant issued by Spain.The Madrid judge who issued the warrant, Baltasar Garzon, accepted British medical reports which found the men were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other serious medical conditions.
Banna is said to be severely depressed, suffering from PTSD, and to have diabetes, hypertension and back pain, as well as damage to the back of his left knee. Deghayes is also suffering from PTSD, and depression, is blind in his right eye, and has fractures in his nasal bone and his right index finger. Both men are said to be at high risk of suicide.
The report on Deghayes concludes: "Given all these factors, I don't see how Mr Deghayes would be able to give instructions to his lawyers, listen to evidence and give his own accurate testimony". A similar conclusion was drawn in the case of Banna, adding that were he to be separated from his wife and children again, he risked a deterioration of his fragile mental health.
Deghayes, a Libyan national whose family fled the Gadafy regime, said from his home in Brighton: "It's good - it's happy news. I always knew they would realise their mistake and give up the case. I still have problems with immigration as the authorities have taken away my resident status, but this is a relief."
The Home Office refused to guarantee to let the pair stay with their families in Britain and said: "Their immigration status is under review."
Deghayes and Banna arrived back in Britain with a third British resident, Abdennour Samuer. Banna, from north-west London, was arrested in the Gambia in 2002 after he did not accept an MI5 request to become an informant.
Irene Nembhard, a lawyer for the men, said it was time for them to be allowed to rebuild their lives.