US sent 23 prisoners to Guantánamo via Morón

26th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 November 2007, Brussels / Madrid - At 1.50pm local time on January 11, 2002, a C-141 Starlifter transport plane operated by the US air force landed in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Aboard were 23 "enemy combatants" who had been captured in Afghanistan and flown - clothed in the now infamous regulation orange jumpsuits - via a European airbase to the prison camp, becoming the first inmates of a place that has come to symbolize disregard for human rights.

26 November 2007

Brussels / Madrid - At 1.50pm local time on January 11, 2002, a C-141 Starlifter transport plane operated by the US air force landed in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Aboard were 23 "enemy combatants" who had been captured in Afghanistan and flown - clothed in the now infamous regulation orange jumpsuits - via a European airbase to the prison camp, becoming the first inmates of a place that has come to symbolize disregard for human rights.

The US government never disclosed the name of the airbase where the first Guantánamo inmates changed planes, but in the years since it has released enough information to allow human rights groups to piece together the puzzle. The changeover, the evidence suggests, occurred in Morón de la Frontera, near Seville - a finding that has serious implications for Spain.

Both the former Popular Party government, which was in power until 2004, and the current Socialist administration have denied claims that the United States carried out illegal activities on Spanish soil. Spain, Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos told the European Parliament in 2006, probably "served not to commit crimes but as a stopover point to commit crimes in other countries."

However, until now it was never entirely clear whether any of the suspect planes that passed through Spanish airports and airbases had been carrying prisoners.

The revelation that at least one plane did have prisoners aboard and, that they set foot on Spanish soil to change to another aircraft, creates new legal implications for Spain. The question is whether the Spanish government knew about it.

"European governments said they never sent prisoners to the United States without legal guarantees, and we now find that this was false," argues Clive Stafford, a representative of Reprieve, the London-based human rights group that made the Morón de la Frontera link.

It is suspected that up to 100 prisoners may have passed through Spain on route to Guantánamo. The case is currently the subject of an investigation by the Spanish High Court.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ A. CARBAJOSA / M. GONZÁLEZ 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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