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Germany

Former German Guantanamo Inmate Gives up Legal Fight

Ex-terror detainee Murat Kurnaz is giving up his legal battle against the elite German Special Forces Command, saying the authorities continue to stonewall his efforts to establish what really happened six years ago.

Murat Kurnaz

Murat Kurnaz's allegations against German soldiers have gone nowhere

With the Tuebingen state prosecutors' investigation into the involvement in Kurnaz's case of the German Special Forces Command (KSK) curtailed in March, Kurnaz has said he will be taking no further legal steps against the two KSK soldiers he maintains tortured him in Kandahar in 2002.

The investigation was stopped not because the soldiers were proven innocence, but because there was insufficient evidence to charge them.

"The Defense Ministry never had any real interest in clearing up this case," said his lawyer Bernhard Docke on Wednesday, June 19.

Grievous bodily harm

German-born Murat Kurnaz was held in extrajudicial detention and claims to have been physically abused at the US military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan and in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, where he was held for four years before his release in 2006.

Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen, was in the process of gaining German nationality when he was arrested in Pakistan in late 2001 and delivered to US authorities in exchange for a payment of $3000 (1,930 euros)

His claims of mistreatment by Germans in Kandahar led to the investigation of two members of the elite KSK, identified by Murnaz on photographs.

Kurnaz accuses the German soldiers who were allowed to interrogate him while he was in American detention of grievous bodily harm, saying that they grabbed him by hair, smashed his head into the ground and kicked him.

The German Ministry of Defense initially denied that the KSK was in Afghanistan at that time but later acknowledged that forces were in Kandahar, and had indeed been in contact with Kurnaz.

"This has left a bitter taste in the mouth," said Docke. "Even if these particular events go unpunished, we hope that what happened to Mr. Kurnaz never happens again – and that German soldiers never again participate in torture."

Indifferent reception

A Guantanamo detainee walks during the daytime Ramadan fast, at Camp 4 medium-security facility for compliant detainees, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007. A U.S. federal judge in Washington blocked the Pentagon from transferring a Guantanamo Bay detainee to Tunisia, where he faces torture, according to a ruling that was unsealed Tuesday and that marked a milestone in treatment of detainees in the Bush administration's war on terror.

Kunarz says he underwent further torture in Guantanamo

In May, US lawmakers heard Murat Kurnaz's testimony on his years in Guantanamo.

The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in Washington invited Kurnaz to testify via video conference as part of a hearing on Guantanamo detainees who are being considered for release but cannot find a host country to take them.

Technical difficulties initially prevented the audio from reaching Washington, and the majority of seats for committee members were empty with barely half a dozen lawmakers coming to listen to the former detainee.

Most were unable to remember his name, with one even calling him "Mr.Karzai."

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