CIA Convictions Upheld in Italy - Its Now Time for Accountability in Ireland

The Italian criminal appeal court has upheld the conviction of 22 US CIA agents, one US pilot of a rendition plane and two Italian intelligence officials, all of whom had been convicted in connection with the kidnap of Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar, who was then transported to Egypt on February 17th, 2003, on Gulfstream 4 plane with tail number N85VM, where he claimed he was tortured (Paddy Agnew, World News, September 21st). It has been confirmed by independent investigations including Amnesty, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the UN Rapporteur on Torture, that this aircraft was refuelled at Shannon on February 18th, 2003 on its return journey to the US.

This plane had previously been refuelled at Shannon in another case revealed in New York court documents. On November 8th 2002 it arrived at Shannon from Washington, flew on to Dubai and Kabul, on a mission that is likely to have involved the rendition and alleged torture of Abd al-Nashiri (Seattle Times report).

On January 20th, 2004 Gulfstream 5 number N8068V (previously numbered N379P nicknamed Guantánamo Express) stopped at Shannon en route to Baghdad where it picked up prisoner Khaled al Maqtari, and transported him to Afghanistan where he was allegedly tortured.

Other confirmed extraordinary renditions that have been facilitated at Shannon Airport included Khaled El Masri and Binyam Mohamed.

Given that well over 1,000 CIA- associated flights involving more than 20 different planes were refuelled at Shannon Airport, it is very likely that some prisoners were transported through Shannon on their way to Guantánamo where they may have been tortured.

The Government, gardaí and airport authorities knowingly or unknowingly facilitated probable torture in these cases in contravention of the UN Convention Against Torture, and associated Irish legislation.

No one has yet been charged with any offences connected with the facilitation of CIA rendition flights through Shannon Airport.

Independent investigation and accountability are long overdue.

This article was also published in The Irish Times letters page on 28th September 2012.

Share this