(AFP) – A British court on Tuesday ruled that a former Libyan militant can sue a former foreign minister and an ex-MI6 officer over his rendition in a landmark case that could pave the way for more lawsuits.
“The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the government’s appeals,” the court said in a statement.
“The cases may proceed to trial,” it said.
Abdelhakim Belhaj, a former Islamist fighter, later became Tripoli’s military commander after Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi was ousted in 2011.
Belhaj has alleged that he and his wife were detained by US intelligence officers at Bangkok airport in Thailand in 2004 when he was leader of the anti-Kadhafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
His wife was several months pregnant at the time.
The couple were then taken to Tripoli, where Belhaj was jailed for six years. Belhaj claims British involvement in his illegal rendition.
Files unearthed from Kadhafi’s archives after his fall suggest he was captured due to a British tip-off.
Belhaj’s case is against Jack Straw, who was Britain’s foreign minister in 2004, and Mark Allen, who was a senior MI6 counter-terrorism officer at the time, according to lawyers in the case.
Sapna Malik from the law firm Leigh Day said: “We hope that the defendants in this action now see fit to apologise to our clients and acknowledge the wrongs done so that they may turn the page on this wretched chapter of their lives and move on”.
Straw responded to the ruling in a statement saying: “As foreign secretary I acted at all times in a manner which was fully consistent with my legal duties, and with national and international law.
“I was never in any complicit in the unlawful rendition or detention of anyone by other states,” Straw said.