Berlin calls for inquiry into Guantanamo deaths

13th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 June 2006, WASHINGTON/BERLIN - The suicides of three detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba over the weekend have renewed criticism of the US government for operating the facility for imprisoning suspects in the war on terrorism.

13 June 2006

WASHINGTON/BERLIN - The suicides of three detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba over the weekend have renewed criticism of the US government for operating the facility for imprisoning suspects in the war on terrorism.

Germany called Sunday for an inquiry into how the three inmates died.

"We assume the United States will inquire comprehensively into the circumstances," said a government spokesman in Berlin, hours after Washington officials said the men had committed suicide. "Our attitude to Guantanamo is well known."

Five months ago, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly criticized the camp and called for it to be closed.

Just before she met with US President George W. Bush, she told an interviewer, "An institution such as Guantanamo ought not to remain in this form. A way to treat the prisoners differently has to be found."

Officials say she repeated that view to Bush when she met him at the White House in January.

The Centre for Constitution Rights is among civil groups arguing that the despair caused by being locked up for years without proper judicial oversight contributed to the deaths of the three men.

"Their despair and hopelessness has increased as the years have gone by without justice, it should not surprise anyone that some of the men were pushed to such desperate measures," said Barbara Olshansky, deputy legal director at the centre in New York.

The US military on Saturday discovered the bodies of two Saudis and one Yemeni hanging in their cells. The three men left suicide notes. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday said Guantanamo should be closed.

A European Parliament committee on Monday also called for Guantanamo's closure and said European Union governments should be resolute in their own calls for the facility to be shut down.

In Washington, the US State Department said the United States was in contact with the Saudi and Yemeni government on how to handle the remains and that the bodies were being treated "according to religious custom."

US President George W Bush has come under increasing pressure from close allies to shut down Guantanamo. Bush has expressed his desire to do so but reiterated during a press conference with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen that the prison contained individuals who continued to pose a threat to international security.

McCormack said the United States was working with other governments to repatriate detainees, and there was a judicial process underway for trying those facing criminal charges.

"We have no desire to be the world's jailers," he said. "We would look forward to the day, at some point, when Guantanamo Bay would close down."

"But the fact of the matter is that it right now houses some very dangerous people who are a threat, not only to American citizens but other people around the world," he said.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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