Britons tortured in Yemen jail

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The Independent Online
CONFIRMATION THAT three of the five British men detained in Yemen on allegations of terrorist activity have been tortured and a confession has been extracted from one emerged last night, according to the men's lawyers.

At a briefing with senior officials at the Foreign Office yesterday afternoon, legal representatives of the men and their families were given details of abuse meted out from reports of consular visits over the past three days.

Samad Ahmed, 21, of Birmingham, was reported to have been hung upside down and beaten, Sahid Butt, 33, also of Birmingham, had been blindfolded, his feet beaten, and a confession extracted, while Mohsin Ghalain, 18, of London, reported that he had been repeatedly hit during his first week in detention. The other men are Malik Nasser Harhra, 26, of Birmingham, and Ghulam Hussein, 25, of Bedfordshire.

Fears were expressed last night for the life of Mr Ghalain, who was said to be suffering liver problems and exhaustion and appeared to be drugged. Previously, official reports have only said that the men seemed to be in "reasonable health" when seen.

It also emerged that during the consular visits the meetings, which are supposed to be confidential, were attended by the head of internal security for Aden and other Yemeni officials.

One lawyer acting for the men said that the families had now lost all faith in the British government's handling of the situation. "As far as we are concerned the response of the Government has been racist and Islamaphobic," Rashad Yacoob, of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, said.

Gareth Peirce, who represented the Birmingham Six and agreed to help the men's families, attended yesterday's briefing. She said: "It is self- evident that any investigation in any country that adopts these measures is in breach of every guarantee determined by international and national law for a safe investigation."

The Yemeni government has said the five men were planning a bombing campaign in Aden. All the families deny that the men had any terrorist involvement, and insist they were in Yemen to learn Arabic or visit relatives.

Diplomats were yesterday still trying to gain access to the fifth man, having seen the others. No formal charge has been made against any of the men.

John Brooke, of East Anglia, the oil worker kidnapped in Yemen on Friday, was meanwhile said to be fit and well. Mediation was under way to try and secure his early release. This latest incident was said to be part of a tribal dispute and had no direct link to the crisis involving 16 hostages last month. Scotland Yard investigations continue into the circumstances of the bungled rescue operation on 29 December in which three British and one Australian hostage were shot dead.