Saturday, 5 January 2008

Justice for Mr Abou Elkassim Britel

(Photo: Mr Abou Elkassim Britel).

The Italian Government, even though resigning, should urge the Moroccan Goverment to free Mr Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen unduly arrested in Pakistan in 2002, then secretly rendered to Morocco by the CIA and there arrested, tortured, released and arrested again.

Here is Mr Britel's story, according to a Parliament speech hold on December 12th, 2006, by fourteen Italian Senators (senato.it).

Mr Abou Elkassim Britel was born in Casablanca on April 18th, 1967. When he was 22, Mr Britel emigrated to Bergamo, in Northern Italy. Mr Britel then married Ms Anna Lucia Pighizzini, who became Muslim and changed her name in Khadija. Since 1999, Mr Abou Elkassim Britel is an Italian citizen.

In 2000, the police of Bergamo began to inquire into Mr Britel, supposing that his brother once put a terrorist up in his house. On July 3rd, 2001 - a few days before the G8 meeting in Genoa - Mr Britel's house was searched by the police. During the same year, the Corriere della Sera wrote that Mr Britel's phone number had been found on a training camp in Kabul, while the man had disappeared: the judges looked into Mr Britel suspecting him of belonging to Al Qaeda. The case will be dismissed by the Italian judges in October, 2006: "Totale insussistenza di elementi di accusa processualmente utilizzabili, che consentano di affermare che gli indagati abbiano partecipato a un'organizzazione terroristica islamica." [There is no useful evidence to say that the people inquired into had worked for a terroristic organization.] (radioradicale.it).

On June, 2001 Mr Britel had reached Pakistan. The Pakistani police arrested him in Lahore on March 10th, 2002: Mr Britel was alleged of holding a false Italian passport and belonging to some terroristic movements, according to the Italian police warnings too. During the night between May 24th and May 25th, 2002 a CIA plane transferred Mr Britel from Pakistan to Morocco, where the local secret service brought him in the jail of Temara.

In Temara, Mr Britel was secretly detained and tortured till February 11th, 2003, when he was released. Being an Italian citizen in Morocco without passport, Mr Britel obtained a provisional paper by the Italian Embassy in Rabat to get back to Italy: on May 16th, 2003, while he was crossing the Moroccan border, Mr Britel was arrested again.

On October 3rd, 2003, during a one-day trial, Mr Britel was sentenced to fifteen years of emprisonment, even though the sentence was then reduced to nine years.

Mr Abou Elkassim Britel is now improsoned in Oukasha. He is unable to see his family and he is now desperately trying to make his story known by the public opinion (faberlab.net).

In February 2007, the European Parliament adopted a report on extraordinary renditions made by the Italian MEP Claudio Fava. According to this report, "the CIA has run more than 1,000 flights within the European Union since 2001, often transporting terror suspects for questioning overseas." (news.bbc.co.uk).

Reporting on Mr Britel's case, Amnesty International explained that in November 2005 the UN Human Rights Committee reminded Italy of "the absolute right of each person not to be expelled to a country where he/she may face torture or ill-treatment, and the obligation of the State party, consequently and in all circumstances, to ensure that the situation of each migrant is processed individually" (amnesty.org).

As a consequence, no matter what Mr Britel's opinions are, the Italian Government should fight to get him back free to Italy.

A petition on the subject is available on petitiononline.com, while on the website giustiziaperkassim.net more informations over the case are available and constantly updated. Act right know to save Mr Britel and Italian democracy all the same.

"Tutti i cittadini hanno pari dignità sociale e sono eguali davanti alla legge, senza distinzione di sesso, di razza, di lingua, di religione, di opinioni politiche, di condizioni personali e sociali." [All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, personal and social conditions.] (Italian Constitution, art. 3).