Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kidnapping Scandal Continues.

More news on disgraceful abduction and interrogation of Pakistani immigrants by Greek and British Secret Services.

This is from the English weekly "Athens News" online edition.

"Pakistanis Call the Press"

THE SCANDAL surrounding the alleged abduction and interrogation last summer of at least 28 Pakistani immigrants in Greece was put back on the front burner when 12 of the Pakistanis, their lawyer and members of a local human rights group called a press conference, breaking more than two months of public silence.

"We are here today to demand truth and justice," Petros Konstantinou, a member of the local Stop the War Coalition, told reporters on April 4. "We have people [Pakistanis] who say they have been threatened with their life and offered thousands of euros in bribes to take back their testimony. And we have three other Pakistanis who fled to Pakistan last year, but who have now returned to testify about their abduction... There are also two [Pakistanis] who say they can recognise a British secret agent involved in the illegal interrogations."

Three more Pakistanis testified before an Athens public prosecutor that they too were kidnapped, detained at an unknown location and questioned about the July 2005 bombings in London and their connection with radical Islam and the terrorist group Al Qa'ida.

Prominent Greek criminal lawyer, Frangiskos Ragoussis, who is representing the Pakistanis, announced that a formal complaint has been lodged as regards attempts to bribe five of his clients to take back their depositions. Several Pakistanis explained to reporters how they were approached and offered money and permanent residence permits by three compatriots. Several of them said they accepted payments of up to 5,000 euros, but are willing to return the money.

"Yes, several of us took the money, but you have to understand the pressure that we were under," said Nazir Ahmat, responding to a reporter's questions about why they took the money in the first place. Ahmat added: "We did not want to retract our testimony, but we were under constant pressure, day and night. We were made to believe that if we didn't, we would be in danger and our family back home would be in danger. They scared us."

"My main concern is not that several of my clients were forced into accepting bribes, but that there was a deliberate attempt to cover up the matter," said Ragoussis.

According to Ragoussis, it was not easy to gain his clients' trust and to convince them that they should not be afraid to fight for justice. "It's especially difficult considering the fact that we are going up against the Greek government, the British government and the Pakistani government," he said.

The embassy and the government of Pakistan, as well as the Greek government, have denied any involvement.

Kathy Tzilivakis

ATHENS NEWS , 07/04/2006, page: A04 Article code: C13177A043


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