Category Archives: Torture Inquisition

French torture device auction at Hotel Salomon de Rothschild called off after outcry


Tools used for torture and humiliation, part of a collection of some 250 items, are displayed at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild in Paris March 31, 2012. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Agence France Presse | Mar 31, 2012

PARIS: A French auction house Friday called off the planned sale of a collection of torture devices dating back three centuries, which had sparked outrage among rights groups and in Algeria.

Some 350 objects, from a hand-crusher to hanging ropes and written death sentences, collected by France’s last executioner Fernand Meyssonnier until his death in 2008, had been slated to go on sale on Tuesday in Paris.

A former chief executioner in French-ruled Algeria, Meyssonnier carried out 198 executions between 1957 and the country’s independence in 1962, devoting the rest of his life to retirement and his torture collection.

Controversial French Torture Auction Cancelled Last Minute Amid Outcry

French auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr was organizing the sale in Paris for the benefit of the Meyssonnier family. However, following the wave of protests, it said Friday it had cancelled the auction.

“Given the emotion aroused by this sale… we decided to suspend it so that all parties concerned can calmly examine the actual content of this collection,” auctioneer Bertrand Cornette de Saint Cyr told AFP.

Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand had in a statement voiced his “strong disapproval” and urged a cancellation of the sale of objects that were morbid, reflected barbarism raised “painful historical questions”.

The Algerian press had also voiced strong disapproval of the auction.

“The minister called me to inform me of the emotion aroused by the sale, particularly in Algeria. The sale is legal but we made the decision to suspend it,” another auctioneer, Arnaud Cornette de Saint Cyr, told AFP.

Rights groups on Wednesday attacked the planned auction as “shocking and immoral”, according to a joint statement by the ACAT-France Christian anti-torture group, Amnesty International France, the Human Rights League, the Movement Against Racism (MRAP) and the Primo Levi association.

Denouncing what they called the “commercialisation of torture”, they called on the French state — which abolished the death penalty in 1981 — to remove the lots from sale, if necessary by buying them for museums.

“What shocks us is that torture is still practiced in half of all countries,” said Eleonore Morel, director of the Primo Levi association, calling the sale “extremely degrading for all the victims of torture”.

Henri Pouillot of the MRAP told AFP the planned auction was “perverse and macabre”. Pouillot said he was particularly alarmed by Meyssonnier’s connection to Algeria, where French forces are acknowledged to have practiced torture during the war of independence from 1956 to 1962.

Russians outraged as more police officers charged with torturing, sodomizing detainees


A police officers looks at a woman who calls herself a relative of police abuse sufferer outside the headquarters of the Investigative Committee’s local department in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, on March 21, 2012, as she tries to lodge a complaint to investigators from Moscow. Russia’s Investigative Committee is looking into local police violence in Tatarstan, a mostly Muslim region on the Volga River, after the shocking death of Sergei Nazarov, in Kazan on March 10 focused attention on brutal methods used on suspects. Officers of Kazan’s police station allegedly raped 52-year-old Nazarov, a suspect in custody with a champagne bottle, leading to the man’s death. (Alexander Alexandrov/AFP/Getty Images)

Public outrage in Russia has grown over the reports of police brutality against detainees, as Russia’s top investigative agency filed new charges Thursday.

globalpost.com | Mar 29, 2012

by Talia Ralph

More Russian police officers have been charged with torturing detainees to death as public outrage over police brutality in the country grows.

The Associated Press reported that Russia’s top investigative agency charged four officers in the Siberian city of Novokuznetsk in the death of a prisoner on Thursday. The Investigative Committee also brought new accusations against an officer in the city of Kazan, who is already in custody on charges of torturing another man to death, according to the AP.

On March 28, authorities filed similar charges against two former police officers over the death of a different prisoner in Kemerovo, Radio Free Europe reported.

Sergei Nazarov, 52, died in Kazan City Hospital on March 10, after having been apparently beaten and sodomized with a champagne bottle by police officers at Kazan’s Dalny police station, according to the Kazan Herald.

Nine police officers were fired after the incident, including the four accused of torture and the head of the police station, the Herald reported. Nazarov’s death sparked protests in Kazan that attracted nationwide and federal attention, the AP reported.

The Russian and Tatarstan Ministries of Interior have both denounced the actions of the police force and launched an investigation into the procedures that allowed the abuse to occur, the Herald reported.

Police regulations in Russia require that officers report a certain quota of solved crimes, which encourages officers to make arbitrary arrests, the AP reported. Russian police often use torture as a means to extract false confessions from the people they round up, victims and human rights activists told the AP.

They said even President Dmitry Medvedev’s police reforms have failed to stop or even contain police crimes.

Two Milwaukee women arrested for satanic sex torture


Mug shots of Rebecca Chandler (l.), 22, and Raven Larrabee, 20, of Milwaukee. via thesmokinggun.com

Milwaukee roommates Rebecca Chandler and Raven Larabee arrested for satanic sex torture

Victim tied with duct tape and cut more than 300 times

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Nov 10, 2011

BY Tracy Connor

Two Milwaukee women were under arrest Wednesday after a young man told cops they tortured him at knifepoint for two days during a satanic sex marathon.

The 18-year-old victim said he took a bus from Phoenix, Ariz., to hook up with a woman he met online — and was then tied up with duct tape and rope and cut more than 300 times.

“I think you are looking for me,” Rebecca Chandler, 22, told police who showed up at her apartment, according to a search warrant obtained by The Smoking Gun website.

Chandler said the cutting started out as consensual but “got out of hand” — and she tried to pin most of the blame on her roommate, Raven Larabee, 20, the warrant said.

Police found some interesting reading material in the women’s pad — “The Necromantic Ritual Rule Book,” “The Werewolf’s Guide to Life” and “Intro to Sigilborne Spirits.’

Police also saw “a large amount of blood on the floor and on bedding,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

After the man was released Sunday night, he called police from the street. When they arrived, they followed a trail of blood back to the apartment.

The victim had slash and puncture wounds on his neck, legs, arm and back. He changed his Facebook status on Tuesday to a single word: “Stitches.”

The women are being held in county lockup on suspicion of reckless injury but had not been charged by prosecutors.

Arrest Bush for rights abuse, Amnesty tells Canada

Reuters | Oct 12, 2011

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Amnesty International urged Canada on Wednesday to arrest former U.S. President George W. Bush for human rights abuses when he visits the province of British Columbia later this month.

Alex Neve, head of Amnesty’s Canadian branch, said Bush had authorized the use of torture techniques such as waterboarding during his time as President, which ran from 2001 to 2009.

Canada’s Conservative government did not respond to previous calls to arrest Bush, who has made at least two trips to Canada since his second four-year term in office ended.

“George W. Bush is responsible for a wide range of human rights violations – notably torture – which constitute crimes under international law,” Neve told a news conference.

“Under both international and national law, Canadian authorities must launch a criminal investigation against the former President, arrest him … and commence a prosecution against him,” he said.

In February, rights groups said Bush canceled a visit to Switzerland because of the threat of legal action against him for alleged torture.

Bush defends the use of waterboarding – which simulates the sensation of drowning – as key to preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

No one was immediately available for comment in the office of federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who is responsible for the file. The U.S. embassy in Ottawa did not return a call seeking comment.

British Secret Service Helped Al Qathafi Jail, Torture Libyan Citizen


Sami al-Saadi, a Libyan citizen who The Guardian reports, fell foul of British MI6 and Al Qathafi intelligence

Associates of Saadi cannot understand why his capture and interrogation would hold any great intelligence value for the British authorities, and are speculating that he may have been a “gift” from the British to the Gaddafi regime.

tripolipost.com | Sep 10, 2011

Libyan Islamist Sami al-Saadi has revealed how he, his wife and children were imprisoned after being “rendered” in an operation MI6 hatched in co-operationwith Al Qathafi’s intelligence services shortly before former British PM Tony Blair visited Libya. He says he is now considering whether to sue the British government.

Sami al-Saadi’s experience is reported exclusively by British national daily newspaper The Guardian, that says that he, his wife and four children, the youngest a girl aged six, were flown from Hong Kong to Tripoli, where they were taken straight to prison. Saadi was interrogated under torture while his family were held in a nearby cell.

“They handcuffed me and my wife on the plane, my kids and wife were crying all the way,” he told The Guardian. “It was a very bad situation. My wife and children were held for two months, and psychologically punished. The Libyans told me that the British were very happy.”

Saadi says he is now considering whether to sue the British government, making him the second Libyan rendition victim to threaten legal proceedings in less than a week.

The evidence that the family were victims of a British-led rendition operation is contained in a secret CIA document found in the abandoned office of Mussa Kussa, Al Qathafi’s former intelligence chief, in Tripoli last week.

In London, meanwhile, an official inquiry into Britain’s role in torture and rendition since 9/11 says the government has provided information about the UK’s role in the affair, and Whitehall sources defended intelligence agencies’ actions by saying they were following “ministerially authorised government policy”.

It is the first time evidence has emerged that the British intelligence agencies ran their own rendition operation, as opposed to co-operating with those that were mounted by the CIA, The Guardian says.

Saadi was held for more than six years, during which time he says he was regularly beaten and subjected to electric shocks. Shortly after his arrival in Tripoli, he says, Mussa Kussa visited in person to explain how Al Qathafi’s new friends in the west were helping him track down the regime’s opponents around the world.

“He told me: ‘You’ve been running from us, but since 9/11 I can pick up the phone and call MI6 or the CIA and they give us all the information we want on you. You’ve nowhere to hide.'”

The newspaper reports that Saadi was a leading member of a Libyan mujahideen group known by the nom de guerre Abu Munthir. He was interrogated on one occasion by British intelligence officers, who he alleges did nothing to try to protect him after he told them he was being tortured.

The Foreign Office has declined to say whether it knew what became of Abu Munthir’s family as a result of the rendition operation, describing this information as an “intelligence matter”. A spokesman told The Guardion: “Our position is that it is the government’s longstanding policy not to comment on intelligence matters.”

Saadi says he was tricked by the British authorities into travelling to Hong Kong. While in exile in China in March 2004 he approached British intelligence officers via an intermediary in the UK, and was told that he would be permitted to return to London, where he had lived for three years after seeking asylum in 1993.

First, however, he would have to be interviewed at the British consulate in Hong Kong, and would be met by British diplomats on his arrival.

Saadi flew to Hong Kong with his wife, two sons aged 12 and nine, and two daughters aged 14 and six. They were not met by any British officials but were detained by Chinese border guards over alleged passport irregularities, held for a week and then despatched to Tripoli.

Saadi says he always assumed the British were behind his rendition, “working behind the curtain”. Confirmation came when Human Rights Watch, the New York-based NGO, discovered a cache of papers in Mussa Kussa’s abandoned office.

Among the documents was a fax that the CIA sent to Tripoli on March 23, 2004. Marked SECRET/US ONLY/EXCEPT LIBYA, it concerns the forthcoming rendition of Saadi and his family. The wording suggests the CIA took no part in the planning of the operation, but was eager to become involved.

It says: “Our service has become aware that last weekend LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) deputy Emir Abu Munthir and his spouse and children were being held in Hong Kong detention for immigration/passport violations.

“We are also aware that your service had been co-operating with the British to effect Abu Munthir’s removal to Tripoli, and that you had an aircraft available for this purpose in the Maldives.”

It goes on to explain that although Hong Kong had no wish to see a Libyan aircraft land on its territory, “to enable you to assume control of Abu Munthir and his family”, the operation would work if the Libyans were to charter an aircraft registered in a third country, and that the US would assist with the cost.

The operation coincided exactly with Tony Blair’s first visit to Libya. Two days after the fax was sent, Blair arrived to shake hands with A Qathafi, and said the two nations wanted to make “common cause” in counter-terrorism operations.

It was also announced that Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell had signed a £550m gas exploration deal. Three days later Saadi and his family were put aboard a private Egyptian-registered jet and flown to Tripoli.

Associates of Saadi cannot understand why his capture and interrogation would hold any great intelligence value for the British authorities, and are speculating that he may have been a “gift” from the British to the Gaddafi regime, The Guardian said.

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U.N. Peacekeepers Accused of Sexually Assaulting Haitian Teen


Video captured on a cell phone purportedly shows U.N. peacekeepers sexually assaulting an 18-year-old boy in Haiti. (ABC News Exclusive)

ABC | Sep. 2, 2011

By ANSEL HERZ, MATTHEW MOSK and RYM MOMTAZ

PORT-SALUT, Haiti – Haitians in this remote seaside town are demanding an investigation into allegations that United Nations peacekeeping troops pinned down an 18-year-old Haitian man and subjected him to a humiliating sexual assault.

The alleged assault occurred in July, but graphic cell phone video surfaced in recent days, showing what appears to be the four UN troops in camouflage and some wearing the trademark sky blue berets attacking the man. As the video began circulating through the coastal village, it sparked a growing sense of outrage there and prompted the victim’s mother and father to seek criminal charges against the United Nations peacekeeping officers, who are from Uruguay. Both parents submitted written depositions on Wednesday in Port Salut’s courthouse.

A medical certificate filed with the court in Haiti and obtained by ABC News, alleges the victim was beaten and had sustained injuries consistent with having been sexually assaulted.

Word of the alleged attack quickly made its way up the chain of command at the United Nations, both in Haiti and in New York, where officials are now vowing to see the incident investigated and the alleged perpetrators brought to justice. Michel Bonnardeaux, a spokesperson for peacekeeping operations based in New York, told ABC News that officials in his office first became aware of the allegations Saturday. They sent a diplomatic note to the Uruguayan mission requesting the country deploy a national investigative officer to Haiti immediately.

Related

Cable: UN peacekeepers traded food for sex

“The defense minister of Uruguay has expressed deep concern and said they will take all the necessary action,” Bonnardeaux said. “We see this as a breakdown of the command and control structure. If the allegations are proved, the assailants must be brought to justice.”

Messages left Friday with the Uruguayan mission in New York were not returned.

Bonnardeaux said the troops involved in the incident have been confined to their barracks.

Under an agreement between Haiti and the U.N., peacekeeping troops are only subject to discipline and legal action from their country of origin. Uruguay has deployed 1,100 troops to the quake-battered island nation. Bonnardeaux said the primary purpose for the U.N. troops being in Haiti is to insure the protection of Haitian civilians.

But that is not what appears to be happening on the one-minute video, which pans out from a sideways close-up of the alleged victim’s strained face to reveal his body being held down on a mattress by the uniformed men. The alleged assailants can be heard laughing as a shirtless soldier kneels behind the Haitian victim and appears to be assaulting him. The video ends as a soldier grabs the bedraggled young man’s arm and seems to try pulling him onto his feet.

Interviewed by a reporter at the courthouse, the young man said he was snatched from behind as he walked by the U.N. base. He alleged he was beaten and sexually molested. “They’re bad people — vagabonds,” he said. The young man’s mother, a street merchant, held up a pair of black pants to show they were torn. She said it was not until the video surfaced that she discovered what had happened.

“He had stayed in his bed during about two weeks but he never told me what was wrong with him,” she said. “We’re humiliated … After I saw the video, I couldn’t stop crying.”

Uruguayan Navy Lieutenant Nicolas Casariego confirmed to ABC News that the video is real. He spoke through the barbed-wire fence that surrounds the base where the alleged incident took place.

Casariego, the base commander, called the apparent abuse in the video “a game” and said it wasn’t sexual in nature. “It’s a young guy who is normally around here, like these people,” he said, pointing to a Haitian family sitting outside their home twenty yards away. He said the soldiers engaged in “some kind of bullying, but nothing more.”

The alleged assault is just the latest in a series of incidents that have frayed relations between Haitians and the 12,000 foreign troops who have been stationed in Haiti under the U.N. banner now for several years. Anti-U.N. riots shut down major cities and thoroughfares after an outbreak of cholera last October. Rumors circulated that a U.N. base had introduced the disease to Haiti. Scientific studies by the Centers for Disease Control and others have since confirmed the source of the outbreak was a Nepalese peacekeeping base in central Haiti.

Sinal Bertrand, a Haitian parliamentary deputy from the Port Salut area, said he began talks with U.N. officials last week about other allegations against the soldiers by residents of Port Salut, ranging from sexually exploiting young women to environmentally polluting the area.

Andre Jean, a local mechanic, summed up those tensions, saying he does not believe the peacekeepers make him any more secure.

“They aren’t useful to us at all,” he said. “They just go back and forth to the beach, nothing more here in Port Salut. They just check out the young girls. If something happens to you and you go to them to ask for help, they tell you, go to the police.”

Bertrand said he is calling on the U.N. to ensure that the alleged assailants in this latest case are punished.

“If they don’t collaborate with the justice system, I’ll denounce them,” he said. “I’m expecting [the U.N.] to respond, until there’s justice.”

How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones


Boys throw stones at Israeli soldiers. AFP

Video seen by Catrina Stewart reveals the brutal interrogation of young Palestinians

independent.co.uk | Aug 26, 2011

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.”

During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.

This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year.

Israel has robustly defended its record, arguing that the treatment of minors has vastly improved with the creation of a military juvenile court two years ago. But the children who have faced the rough justice of the occupation tell a very different story.

“The problems start long before the child is brought to court, it starts with their arrest,” says Naomi Lalo, an activist with No Legal Frontiers, an Israeli group that monitors the military courts. It is during their interrogation where their “fate is doomed”, she says.

Sameer Shilu, 12, was asleep when the soldiers smashed in the front door of his house one night. He and his older brother emerged bleary-eyed from their bedroom to find six masked soldiers in their living room.

Checking the boy’s name on his father’s identity card, the officer looked “shocked” when he saw he had to arrest a boy, says Sameer’s father, Saher. “I said, ‘He’s too young; why do you want him?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said”. Blindfolded, and his hands tied painfully behind his back with plastic cords, Sameer was bundled into a Jeep, his father calling out to him not to be afraid. “We cried, all of us,” his father says. “I know my sons; they don’t throw stones.”

In the hours before his interrogation, Sameer was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, and prevented from sleeping. Eventually taken for interrogation without a lawyer or parent present, a man accused him of being in a demonstration, and showed him footage of a boy throwing stones, claiming it was him.

“He said, ‘This is you’, and I said it wasn’t me. Then he asked me, ‘Who are they?’ And I said that I didn’t know,” Sameer says. “At one point, the man started shouting at me, and grabbed me by the collar, and said, ‘I’ll throw you out of the window and beat you with a stick if you don’t confess’.”

Sameer, who protested his innocence, was fortunate; he was released a few hours later. But most children are frightened into signing a confession, cowed by threats of physical violence, or threats against their families, such as the withdrawal of work permits.

When a confession is signed, lawyers usually advise children to accept a plea bargain and serve a fixed jail sentence even if not guilty. Pleading innocent is to invite lengthy court proceedings, during which the child is almost always remanded in prison. Acquittals are rare. “In a military court, you have to know that you’re not looking for justice,” says Gabi Lasky, an Israeli lawyer who has represented many children.

There are many Palestinian children in the West Bank villages in the shadow of Israel’s separation wall and Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. Where largely non-violent protests have sprung up as a form of resistance, there are children who throw stones, and raids by Israel are common. But lawyers and human rights groups have decried Israel’s arrest policy of targeting children in villages that resist the occupation.

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem concluded that, “the rights of minors are severely violated, that the law almost completely fails to protect their rights, and that the few rights granted by the law are not implemented”.

Israel claims to treat Palestinian minors in the spirit of its own law for juveniles but, in practice, it is rarely the case. For instance, children should not be arrested at night, lawyers and parents should be present during interrogations, and the children must be read their rights. But these are treated as guidelines, rather than a legal requirement, and are frequently flouted. And Israel regards Israeli youngsters as children until 18, while Palestinians are viewed as adults from 16.

Lawyers and activists say more than 200 Palestinian children are in Israeli jails. “You want to arrest these kids, you want to try them,” Ms Lalo says. “Fine, but do it according to Israeli law. Give them their rights.”

In the case of Islam, the boy in the video, his lawyer, Ms Lasky, believes the video provides the first hard proof of serious irregularities in interrogation.

In particular, the interrogator failed to inform Islam of his right to remain silent, even as his lawyer begged to no avail to see him. Instead, the interrogator urged Islam to tell him and his colleagues everything, hinting that if he did so, he would be released. One interrogator suggestively smacked a balled fist into the palm of his hand.

By the end of the interrogation Islam, breaking down in sobs, has succumbed to his interrogators, appearing to give them what they want to hear. Shown a page of photographs, his hand moves dully over it, identifying men from his village, all of whom will be arrested for protesting.

Ms Lasky hopes this footage will change the way children are treated in the occupied territories, in particular, getting them to incriminate others, which lawyers claim is the primary aim of interrogations. The video helped gain Islam’s release from jail into house arrest, and may even lead to a full acquittal of charges of throwing stones. But right now, a hunched and silent Islam doesn’t feel lucky. Yards from his house in Nabi Saleh is the home of his cousin, whose husband is in jail awaiting trial along with a dozen others on the strength of Islam’s confession.

The cousin is magnanimous. “He is a victim, he is just a child,” says Nariman Tamimi, 35, whose husband, Bassem, 45, is in jail. “We shouldn’t blame him for what happened. He was under enormous pressure.”

Israel’s policy has been successful in one sense, sowing fear among children and deterring them from future demonstrations. But the children are left traumatised, prone to nightmares and bed-wetting. Most have to miss a year of school, or even drop out.

Israel’s critics say its policy is creating a generation of new activists with hearts filled with hatred against Israel. Others say it is staining the country’s character. “Israel has no business arresting these children, trying them, oppressing them,” Ms Lalo says, her eyes glistening. “They’re not our children. My country is doing so many wrongs and justifying them. We should be an example, but we have become an oppressive state.”

Child detention figures

7,000 [Figure corrected, with apologies for earlier production error.] The estimated number of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000, shows a report by Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

87 The percentage of children subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody. About 91 per cent are also believed to be blindfolded at some point during their detention.

12 The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as stipulated in the Military Order 1651.

62 The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.