British man sues Libya for £5m after kidnap ordeal

 

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The Independent Online

A wealthy British businessman is bringing a £5m compensation claim against Colonel Gaddafi and his government, alleging that he was kidnapped and tortured by the Libyan security services.

Henry Djaba, 46, who returned to the UK last week, says he was the victim of state-sponsored "disappearance" and imprisoned in a windowless 6ft by 4ft cell where his captors threatened to hang him upside down and beat him to death.

He alleges that a Libyan business associate conspired with Libyan security and military intelligence officers to deprive him of millions of pounds worth of commission from lucrative gas and hotel contracts in Africa.

During the ordeal Mr Djaba, from Bayswater, west London, says he was assaulted, deprived of sleep, forced to take drugs, and made to believe that he was to be executed.

The security services in Libya have a reputation for extra-judicial kidnappings, with hundreds of victims disappearing each year.

Mr Djaba's case raises questions about Britain's strengthening relationship with Libya, where human rights abuses continue and security agents act with impunity.

The businessman, who was snatched from the streets of Tripoli on 31 March this year, does not believe enough was done to secure his release in a country which has increasingly strong political and commercial ties with the UK. In a letter to David Cameron he asks whether Britain did enough to secure his release.

He has instructed two UK law firms to bring a claim in the High Court in London because he cannot return to Libya.

The company director of a Libyan African investment company was in Libya to broker the sale of two hotels when he was snatched from the busy Gargaresh Road in Tripoli in the afternoon. He was bundled into a car by four gunmen, blindfolded and driven to a building where he was put in a tiny cell.

"I had no idea what was going on," he said. "I was petrified. I was saying 'I'm a British citizen, I want you to call the embassy'."

He told The Independent: "They beat me and kicked me and tried to get me to sign a confession admitting that I was a spy, a gangster or a pimp running an international prostitute ring. But I thought they were going to kill me anyway so I didn't sign anything because I didn't want to give them the pleasure of telling my parents that I was a pimp or a gangster."

Mr Djaba said that a former Libyan associate, Mohamed Treki, had brought a complaint to the police about him after he became aware of the lucrative commissions to be paid by a Nigerian company and the government of Chad.

He alleges that Mr Treki was jealous of his relationship with his girlfriend.

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