Mystery delay on check into torture claims

Libya has failed to grant British police leave to interview alleged victims of rendition

Detectives investigating allegations of British involvement in illegal rendition and torture are being hampered in their efforts to interview witnesses.

Attempts to interview two Libyans who say they were tortured by the Gaddafi regime after being returned to Tripoli with British and US help are being thwarted by a delay in granting permission for detectives to travel to Libya.

Without witness statements, the investigation to discover the extent of British knowledge and involvement is effectively blocked.

Details of the frustrated investigation emerged after it was revealed that the UK and Libya had quickly reached a deal permitting Scotland Yard detectives to travel to Tripoli to pursue their investigation into PC Yvonne Fletcher, who was murdered by a Libyan official inside its London embassy in 1984.

It will also fuel speculation that the two countries are eager to reach an agreement which allows both to avoid awkward or embarrassing legal or official inquiries. It is also likely to add pressure on the UK Government to launch a fresh inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing by the UK's security services. Justice Minister Ken Clarke announced that an inquiry claims that MI5 and MI6 had aided and abetted the rendition, and ill-treatment of terrorism suspects in the wake of 9/11 could not continue because of the Scotland Yard investigation into the Libyan allegations.

The fresh investigation was prompted by the discovery of evidence implicating British officials which was found in the office of the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.

One of the alleged rendition and torture victims, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, 45, a Libyan military commander, is now suing former foreign secretary Jack Straw. The legal move follows the revelation that the British government had facilitated the rendition of Mr Belhadj, although it is unclear at exactly what level.

Mr Belhadj claims that in 2004, CIA agents took him against his will from Thailand to Libya, via the UK-controlled island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. At that time Mr Belhadj was the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, living in exile in China. MI5 believed LIFG had close links to al-Qa'ida and Mr Belhadj alleges he and his wife were detained by US agents in Bangkok as they travelled to the UK to claim political asylum. A second man, identified as Abu Abdullah Sadiq, says he was tortured during the rendition process itself as well as after his arrival in Libya, where he was subsequently imprisoned.

It is understood the Metropolitan Police applied for visas to travel to Libya to interview Mr Belhadj and other witnesses in February but are still awaiting a reply according to Westminster sources. A source said: "The police applied for the visas at the end of February and have had no news back from the Libyans. It is a little frustrating now to read that the Prime Minister can arrange with the Libyan president for the officers investigating Yvonne Fletcher to go over just like that."

A Met Police spokesman said: "Talks will be held with the Foreign Office and Libya to arrange a visit."

The Libyan embassy was unavailable for comment.

Suggested Topics
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition