Berlin extradites al Qaeda suspects
17 November 2003 , FRANKFURT - Over Yemen's objections, German justice officials said Monday two Yemeni al-Qaeda suspects in detention since January had been turned over to the United States, with their lawyers questioning the legality of the move and calling it "humanely disgusting".
17 November 2003
FRANKFURT - Over Yemen's objections, German justice officials said Monday two Yemeni al-Qaeda suspects in detention since January had been turned over to the United States, with their lawyers questioning the legality of the move and calling it "humanely disgusting".
The government of Yemen Monday expressed regret. It repeatedly appealed to the German government to hand the two suspects over to Yemeni authorities and not to the United States. Yemen feared the two would be confined with other al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo base in Cuba. The US has insisted that will not be the case.
German prosecutors said that Sheikh Mohammed Ali el Mojad and an assistant, Mohammed Mussein Siad, had been turned over to U.S. officials at Frankfurt airport on Sunday and flown to New York aboard a US Air Force plane.
"We regret that Sheikh el-Mojad was not given enough time to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights," Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu-Bakr al-Qerbi told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in Sana'a.
"Yemen hoped the handover would have been delayed to see the decision of the European Court (of Justice)," he said. Yemeni government would commission a team of lawyers to defend the two Yemenis before US courts, al-Qerbi said.
Hildegard Becker-Toussaint, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, said it was not known whether lawyers for the two men would pursue any further legal steps, such as an appeal to the European Court of Justice.
She said that such a move, as indicated by the lawyers, would still have had no delaying effect on Germany's decision to extradite the two Yemenis.
Officials in Yemen, however, said a team of lawyers will be assigned to defend the two Yemenis before US courts.
A German lawyer for the two Yemenis, Achim Schlott-Kotschote, blasted the extradition as being "legally questionable and humanely disgusting".
Germany's justice system in this case had ignored the customary practice of first awaiting the outcome of a petition sent to the German parliament and of complaints filed at the European Court of Justice, he charged in Frankfurt.
Schlott-Kotschote also said he particularly detested those people who had purposefully prevented him from bidding farewell to his two clients.
The extradition came after Germany's Constitutional Court issued a ruling on November 13 to uphold a lower court approval of the extradition of the suspects being held since January 10.
In upholding the decision, the court dismissed arguments by lawyers for the man that he could face inhumane treatment in the United States.
A court spokesman said US authorities had provided written guarantees that the suspects would face regular legal proceedings and not be sent to the controversial detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
The United States regards el Mojad as being a member of the al- Qaeda network, a contention which Yemeni authorities reject.
El Mojad and Siad, described as el Mojad's secretary, were arrested in a sweep at a hotel at Frankfurt international airport on January 10, with German agents acting on a U.S. request.
The United States suspects el Mojad, a cleric at one of the leading mosques in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, of having collected USD20 million for al-Qaeda, and also having been one of the most important backers of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Subject: German news