Earlier this week the Court of Appeal ruled that Yunus Rahmatullah, who was captured by British SAS personnel in Iraq, should be presented within seven days for trial by a British court or be released. After the British capture of Rahmatullah, who is originally from Pakistan, he was rendered to US officials. Since then he has been detained at the notorious Bagram jail in Afghanistan without a trial.
The appellate justices -Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Sullivan- ruled that his continued detention was illegal and issued a writ of habeas corpus for his release. The effect of such a writ is to order the release of a prisoner in order for a trial to take place.
Reprieve, a legal charity which has supported the release of Rahmatullah, welcomed the decision. A spokesman for the charity said, “Today’s historic decision marks the first time any civilian legal system has penetrated Bagram, a legal black hole”.
The international legal community has on several occasions expressed concern over the treatment of terrorist suspects held by the United States. US officials originally argued that the suspects held abroad are not covered by the same legislation that protects US citizens. However, this approach has been heavily criticised.
The charity also said that Rahmatullah is in a poor physical and mental state. Rahmatullah is represented by the solicitors firm Leigh Day. A spokesman for the firm said, “Mr Rahmatullah is … prevented from speaking with or instructing lawyers. Instructions to act on his behalf were received through his cousin, who has intermittent communication with the client through the International Committee of the Red Cross.”
Jamie Beagent, solicitor at Leigh Day, further added that he hoped that the court’s judgment would bring an end to the unlawful detention of Rahmatullah. “We hope that the writ of habeas corpus will finally bring to an end our client’s nightmare of indefinite detention without charge in appalling conditions at Bagram.”
Rahmatullah was captured in 2004. However, the British Government only admitted its involvement in his capture in 2009. They have consistently claimed that he has links to a terrorist organisation.
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