Macedonian trial over rendition flights opens

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A trial opened in Skopje Friday of a German national abducted by the CIA in Macedonia in 2003 and flown to Afghanistan for questioning, who is seeking damages from the government here.

Lebanese-born Khaled el-Masri says he was abducted by CIA operatives while on holiday in Skopje in 2003 and secretly flown to Afghanistan where he was questioned and tortured by the CIA.

He is seeking 50,000 euros (68,000 dollars) in damages.

He says he was held for four months in a secret CIA prison known as the Salt Pit. He was released without charge and returned to Germany.

Masri was not present for the opening of the trial and is being represented by lawyers Darian Pavli and Filip Medarski.

To be able to claim damages he will have to prove that secret CIA prisons existed in Macedonia, something Skopje has always denied.

Masri also filed a lawsuit against the United States, whose Supreme Court upheld a decision to reject his case on national security grounds in 2007.

Rendition flights, whereby terrorism suspects are transferred covertly to a third country or to US-run detention centres, started after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

© 2011 AFP

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