In news which will embarrass the UK Government, it has been confirmed that our clients, Faisal Al-Saadoon and Khalaf Hussein Mufdhi, have been reunited with their families and released from incarceration in Iraq after eight years of detention.
Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled, in a damning judgment, that the UK breached the European Convention on Human Rights when it handed the two men over to the Iraqi authorities to face a real risk of the death penalty in breach of a court injunction. That judgment resulted in what one influential commentator called “the strongest ever decision on the death penalty”.
The pair were arrested and detained in 2003 by British forces. They were initially held without charge in solitary confinement where they were subjected to deliberate sleep deprivation, extreme heat, arbitrary body searches and physical abuse. In May 2006 they were charged with war crimes and the murder of two British soldiers, Staff Sergeant Cullingsworth and Sapper Allsop. On 31 December 2008, after over five years in British custody, our clients were handed over to the Iraqi authorities to face charges which if proven would have resulted in their death by hanging.
In April 2011, following the European Court judgment, the two were acquitted of all charges but have only recently been released.
Their release marks the end of an eight year ordeal for them. It also marks the end of the British Government’s shameful attempts to secure convictions against them with the flimsiest of evidence. For Public Interest Lawyers it brings to an end three years of litigation which sought to protect their human right not to be subjected to death by hanging.
Speaking today, Phil Shiner stated:
“This case has exposed the hypocrisy of the UK Government’s supposed opposition to the death penalty. For the past eight years it has tried every trick in the book to ensure that these men faced an unfair criminal trial in Iraq before a hanging court on scant evidence. I am very pleased that our work to frustrate these attempts has at last paid off, and that these men can walk free.”
Mazin Younis of the Iraqi League, who has provided support to the men throughout their time in detention said as follows:
“It has taken eight years for these men to secure their freedom. For almost all of that time they have lived with the daily fear of the death penalty. No-one can return to them and their families the eight years of their lives which have been lost, but their release allows them to start to rebuild their lives.”