The Torturers

BERLIN/MECKENHEIM/BEIRUT | | libanonsyrien

BERLIN/MECKENHEIM/BEIRUT (Own report) - Severe torture during judicial investigations by the federal prosecutor's office is the outcome of systematic cooperation between the German government agencies and the military secret services of Lebanon and Syria. This is what German-foreign-policy.com has learned from the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, (BKA), where these crimes are being referred to as "torture outsourcing." According to this information, a BKA liaison officer in Lebanon had consolidated the contacts to the appropriate offices in the country, shortly before the delivery of the first suspect from Germany which led to torture. The operation was supervised by an employee of the German embassy in Beirut who was kept abreast of the Lebanese methods of torture being applied. In violation of the diplomatic status, the "outsourcing preparations" were carried out in an office of the German diplomatic mission. According to information received by german-foreign-policy.com the results of the interrogation were also evaluated in this office. In spite of having been reported through official channels, the president of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) has refused for several months to swear out a warrant for the crime of torture. The Federal Prosecutor General still refuses to open an investigation into the matter. "Naked fear is widespread" in the halls of the BKA, a BKA official explained to this editorial staff, because further details of their "war on terror" could be made public. These details include the direct cooperation between German and American administrations. According to written information on hand at the editorial office of german-foreign-policy.com, the FBI had its own office space in the BKA headquarters in Meckenheim. US authorities functioning on German territory transmit their questions of interest to the interrogators by way of the BKA through its liaison in Beirut. The questions are then forwarded to the Lebanese torturers of Mohamed Ramez Sultan, a car dealer from Munich.

Shortly before delivering Mohamed Ramez Sultan into the hands of his Lebanese-Syrian torture specialists,[1] the Interior Minister at the time, Otto Schily, ordered the upgrading of "police cooperation with Lebanon and Syria," with those same institutions in the Middle East, known for their torture skills.[2] Stefan E., the BKA liaison officer in Lebanon, had been heavily involved in this effort since June 2002. At first, he escorted visiting command-level BKA officials from headquarters in Meckenheim and Wiesbaden, who had come to arrange this "close cooperation,"[3] but before long, he was integrated into the operative consequences of German-Lebanese cooperation. The arrest of the Munich car dealer, Mohamed Ramez Sultan, was about to take place.

Outsourced

Because of alleged contacts to the terrorist milieu, Sultan had been placed under surveillance while still in Munich and was delivered to the Lebanese military authorities, who, at the demand of the BKA, arrested him in Beirut in September 2002. A BKA police commander and several detective senior superintendents flown in from Meckenheim took part. The men had a clearly defined job to do. As soon as Mohamed Ramez Sultan was behind bars, they were to submit to the Lebanese security services a voluminous catalog of questions, transmit Sultan's answers back to Germany and again pass on to the Lebanese, complementary questions arriving from Germany. A rather complicated arrangement for an interrogation that could have been carried out in Munich, but was outsourced to Lebanon. For the necessary translation of the approx. 80 pages of the interrogation catalog, Stefan E., the BKA liaison man in Beirut, had a competent and discrete Lebanese aide, Joseph H.

Astonishing

H. was in residence at the Maghzal Building in Beirut. There he had his own office in the German Embassy, and was on the embassy's payroll. At the daily rounds of talks with the BKA group, he chatted about the Syrian-Lebanese torture practices and boasted - according to a participant - of allegedly having received decorations from the Syrian secret service. The joint protocols were written on the computer in H.'s office at the embassy. H., the torture connoisseur, transcribed the astonishing results, as soon as the Lebanese military specialists would bring news about statements made by he Munich car dealer.

Aggressive

"Almost by the hour, at least several times per day" new "interrogation information" was coming in, recalls BKA detective senior superintendent, Ralph Trede,[4] who, in Beirut had had suspicions for obvious reasons, "from the very beginning". Apparently Trede had stepped into a nest of torturers in a sort of "outsourcing program of the German Ministry of the Interior" and was expected to serve as mediator. His suspicions were reinforced, when the Lebanese military specialists refused him all contact to the Munich car dealer and three other prisoners. Even the wish of absolute photo-identification of the Munich prisoner were refused. To BKA's Trede, the thought "immediately came to mind" that the Lebanese interrogators had "been accordingly aggressive and therefore did not want to show photos."

Electrical Shock Treatment

Trede could not have known at the time, that the Lebanese military secret service had done more than merely "been aggressive" and that in the handling of the case, to which he had been assigned from Germany, criminal methods were being applied. According to information from amnesty international (ai) at least one of the suspects had been tormented with the "Ballanco," a form of suspension torture.[5] The victim suffers extreme pain, when he is lifted in the air, by his hands that are bound behind his back. Another torture variation was repeatedly reported to the BKA official by the embassy's foreign ministry employee and torture connoisseur, Joseph H.: electrical shocks applied to the scrotum.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

As Ralph Trede, October 2, called the BKA headquarters in Meckenheim, both by cell phone and over a secure line via satellite telephone, to report on the development of interrogations in Beirut and to receive new orders, a new international context to the BKA's operation "outsourcing" was revealed. Trede and his unit, including the director of Meckenheim's Group 3 of State Security, learned that "at the moment a meeting" was in session in Meckenheim "with the FBI participating."[6] As mentioned in a summary record, furnished german-foreign-policy.com, the field office of the US authorities in the headquarters of the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation wanted to reasonably benefit from the "outsourcing" or was a silent partner in the torture from the beginning. The FBI presented Meckenheim with its own question catalog. "It was asked to send these 'questions' (...) as immediately as possible to Beirut."

Unanswered

After the German's question catalog had been enriched with questions covering US-American interests, the interrogations carried out at the hands of the Lebanese military secret service were extended over months. According to BKA observations, at one point "a prisoner had to be hospitalized, in order to make it possible to resume interrogation."[7] By December 2002, at the very latest, the ongoing torture was on file and had been reported to the top officials at BKA headquarters - without perceptible consequences. Even the personal debriefing of BKA President Joerg Ziercke (August 26, 2004) was followed by months of silence. Two BKA officials attempted to inform the Minister of the Interior, who left their letters unanswered.

Fear

Since the suspicion of crimes (violation of the constitutionally anchored handling of reported human rights violations Article 20, Paragraph 3 of the German Constitution, violation of international contractual obligations in the domain of the protection of human rights, obstruction of justice while in office) and their consequences have become known through reports in the media,[8] "naked fear has become widespread" in the BKA. Accessories to the practice of "outsourcing" are afraid of losing their jobs if they go public with their knowledge. Other officials of the BKA were submitted to operative measures, because they were considered potential informants, according to statements made to german-foreign-policy.com.

Crimes

Even though eleven months ago, several members of the Federal parliament, including parliamentarians of the opposition parties, were informed of these procedures political Berlin has taken a "wait and see" posture. In the meantime the trail of evidence of crimes of systematic "outsourcing" - that have not only occurred in Beirut - are disappearing and the victims - if they are still alive - are bringing suit against the international system of torture.

[1] see also Täuschen und lügen
[2], [3] Eingangsstatement von Bundesinnenminister Otto Schily vor dem Visa-Untersuchungsausschuss des Deutschen Bundestages. Sitzung des Visa-Untersuchungsausschusses des Deutschen Bundestages am 15. Juli 2005
[4] Protokoll vom 31.08.2005
[5] see also Täuschen und lügen
[6] Protokoll vom 02.10.2002, Absatz "Lageinfo"
[7] Protokoll vom 31.08.2005
[8] see also Täuschen und lügen