Kuwaiti pilot loses plea over `torture'

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The Independent Online

A British-born air force pilot yesterday failed in his attempt to sue the government of kuwait in the High Court for alleged torture and intimidation.

While across London a top-level Kuwaiti human rights conference attacked Iraq's treatment of its citizens, the Court of Appeal ruled that Kuwait was entitled to plead state immunity, even though the allegations made by the pilot involved contravention of international law against torture.

Sulaiman al-Adsani, 35, who is now resident in Britain, flew with the Kuwaiti air force during the Gulf war. However, he alleges that, when the war ended, he was held and beaten in a state security prison accused of circulating copies of a pornographic video featuring a member of the royal family, Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah al-Saud al-Sabah.

After arriving in London in May 1991, he received telephone threats to his life, exacerbating his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Adsani's lawyers urged the appeal judges to hold that the 1978 State Immunity Act only applied to countries which acted within the Law of Nations, which condemned torture as a violation of human rights.

But Lord Justice Stuart-Smith said that, if such a qualification had been intended, it would have been drafted into the Act.

Mr Adsani said after the judgment that he would take his case to the House of Lords and, if necessary, to the European Court of Justice.

"I am confident I can prove the Kuwaiti government was responsible for my torture - they have tortured many others," he said.

Meanwhile, at the First International Conference on Human Rights and Kuwait Prisoners of War in central London, the Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, warned that the world must keep up its guard against Iraq.

He insisted sanctions must be maintained until Iraqi complied with all UN resolutions.

But the charity War on Want accused the Kuwaiti government of "breathtaking arrogance" in condemning human rights violations in Iraq, while abusing human rights within its own country.