Tunisian Freed from Guantánamo and Sent Home from Italy Reflects on His Imprisonment

Back in January, in the first glow of the liberation of Tunisia from the iron grip of its long-term dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, I wrote an article about the 12 Tunisian prisoners held at Guantánamo, and followed this up, in the first week in February, with another article examining how, in Tunisia, one former Guantánamo prisoner, Abdallah Hajji, had been freed from prison, where he had been serving a sentence after a show trial on his return from Guantánamo, while, in Italy, another former Guantánamo prisoner, Mohammed Tahir Riyadh Nasseri, who was sent to Italy from Guantánamo to face a trial on charges related to terrorism, was convicted of “criminal association with the aim of terrorism” and sentenced to six years in prison.

This was, I believe, a harsh sentence, as Nasseri will have spent 16 years in prison by the time his sentence comes to an end, and on February 7, just days after the Nasseri verdict, another judge delivered a completely different ruling in the case of Adel Ben Mabrouk, the other Tunisian sent to Italy from Guantánamo in November 2009 (also identified as Adel Ben Mabrouk Bin Hamida Boughanmi). Although he too was “convicted of criminal association with the aim of terrorism,” as the Associated Press described it, the judge gave him a two-year suspended sentence and ordered his immediate release from jail, “citing time served at Guantánamo,” even though he did not, at that point, have a passport or any kind of travel or identity papers.

As the AP explained, Ben Mabrouk’s defense lawyer Giuseppina Regina “said she and prosecutors made a joint appeal to the judge to take into consideration the eight years Mabrouk spent in Guantánamo in ‘inhumane conditions,’ plus a year and a half in Italian prison.” She stated, “Both the defense and the prosecution asked the judge to take into account his illegal and inhumane detention at Guantánamo,” and this was indeed the case. Prosecutor Armando Spataro said that he “appealed for a lighter sentence,” because Ben Mabrouk’s detention at Guantánamo was illegal under Italian law, and because “the crimes of which he was accused occurred more than a decade ago.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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