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Torture Plane Crew N54PA “resting at Shannon”?
anti-war / imperialism |
Wednesday June 18, 2008 16:03 by Edward Horgan
Gardai refuse to search plane associates with CIA torture rendition
The crew or crews of CIA plane have had a busy time recently, including a visit to Guantanamo on 3 June 2008. They arrived at Shannon on Friday 13 June, from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, via Newfoundland. They spent only about 30 minutes refuelling and left immediately for an unknown destination or destinations. On Saturday 14th June they were back at Shannon refuelled and again left quickly at about 12.40 pm on their way back to Florida again via Newfoundland. Today N54PA is back at Shannon for up to 10 hours as its crew probably "rest off" following their ardous and possibly nefarious activities
This morning, 18 June 2008, N54PA was back at Shannon again via Newfoundland from Florida. It arrived as scheduled at about 08.05 am. I was there to meet it and saw it landing and took some long distance photos of it. In order to get a better photo I went to the viewing gallery in the terminal building but the viewing gallery was closed to the public. Because the aircraft was parked about 200 metres in front of the security and fire brigade entrance, I went to this area in order to confirm its registration number and get better photo as evidence of its presence at Shannon. Because I also wished to request the airport security staff to search this aircraft, I entered the security lodge, and requested the security officer present to have this aircraft searched. He refused to do so, and asked me to leave this area. I informed him that I was collecting evidence of possible breaches of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), and the (Irish), UNCAT Act 2002. When asked to leave again I refused to do until I could ascertain whether this aircraft was being searched. At this time the aircraft was being refuelled by Top Oil. A Senior officer of the Shannon airport security services then arrived, Mr James Watson. He also ordered me to leave and I again refused to do on the grounds that I was collecting important evidence and I needed to establish if this aircraft was being searched. I repeated my request to him, several times, that this aircraft N54PA be searched because it was closely associated with the CIA torture rendition programme, and as far as I was aware it had also been to Guantanamo as recently as 3rd June 2008. Mr Watson repeatedly refused to have the aircraft searched. I had already contacted two colleagues, including a representative of Amnesty International and asked them to request the Gardai to search this aircraft. Both confirmed by phone that they had made these requests to Shannon Garda station. I was informed by James Watson that I was in breach of the Air Traffic Navigation Act by being in this location. He informed that the Gardai had been informed. Two Gardai arrived, Garda Power and Garda Lyne, and also asked me to leave the Security Lodge. I requested these two gardai to have plane number N54PA searched because of its CIA rendition associations, and they refused to do so, and ordered me to leave the area, and the airport. I again refused to do and explained that I was collecting evidence and waiting to established whether the plane was going to be searched or not. I was then removed by these two Gardai from the security lodge, but I remained just outside the door of the lodge by holding on the railings. I was asked to leave this area also by both airport security and by the Gardai, but again refused to do on the grounds that I had lawful reason to be there, that reason being my efforts to prevent Shannon airport being used to facilitate crimes of torture.
Further Gardai then arrived including Garda Sergeant Kevin O’Hagan, who also ordered me to leave area on several occasions. I again refused and explained my lawful reasons for being in this area. I also requested Sgt O’Hagan to have this aircraft searched, and he confirmed that he had already received this request by phone, and that it was a matter for his superiors. I informed him and the other Gardai present that he and all Gardai at Shannon had a specific duty under the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act, 2000 to search such aircraft in order to ensure that Shannon airport was not being used to facilitate torture and also to investigate previous crimes of torture that had been facilitated at Shannon airport.
I then requested permission to enter the airport so that I could carry out a search of this aircraft N54PA. I was refused permission and told that I would be in breach of the law, and would be trespassing. I then pointed out to the Gardai and to the airport police including James Watson, that a jury in Dublin has acquitted the five Catholic Workers who had entered the airport in January 2003 and damaged a US warplane. The Jury had found them not guilty of trespass or criminal damage on the grounds that they had justifiable reasons to their actions. I explained that there were even more immediate and more justifiable reasons for searching this aircraft, in compliance with the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act, 2000. I was refused permission to enter to airport to search aircraft N54PA. I was also prevented from taking photos of the aircraft from this location. During this time I received phone calls from Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD, and Senator David Norris who had been informed of the events described above.
I was then informed that the aircraft in question would be remaining at the airport for about 10 hours. I presume that this was to enable the aircraft crew to get rest before flying on to some unknown destination. I decided to leave the area at this time, but was prevented from doing so by Garda Sgt O’Hagan and Mr Watson of the airport police. They requested that photos on my camera be deleted because they were taken in the security area. I refused to hand over my camera on the grounds that any photos on my cameras were needed as possible evidence. A cannon camera was taken from my bag and examined by Sgt O’Hagan and Mr Watson, but no photos were found on it that needed to be deleted. I then left the airport because I had other urgent business to attend to, and because I had been prevented from adequately investigating the presence and activities of aircraft N54PA and its crew at Shannon airport.
I wish to acknowledge that valuable support I received from peace activist colleagues including Amnesty International, and from elected members of the Oireachtas, Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD and Senator David Norris. David Norris raised this matter on the order of business in An Seanad this morning.
I informed that gardai present at this incident that I would be making a complaint on this matter to the Garda Ombudsman, on the grounds that all such previous complaints on related matters that had been made to the Garda authorities in the past had failed to result in satisfactory action by the Gardai.
While it unlikely that this particular plane, N54PA had prisoners on board on this occasion at Shannon airport, there are substantial grounds for believing that the crew of this aircraft had relevant information on previous acts of rendition and of torture of prisoners, and may have been involved themselves in committing or being complicit in acts of torture. There may also have been physical and forensic evidence of torture on this aircraft. Furthermore, this aircraft and its crew may have been on their way to collect prisoners for the purpose of being tortured elsewhere.
The Gardai and the airport authorities including airport security are in gross breach of their duties in failing to prevent Shannon airport being used to facilitate torture and failing to prevent Gardai and Shannon airport workers in being complicit in committing torture, and in failing to investigate to possibility that people who have committed torture have been at Shannon airport, or that prisoners may even have endured torture by virtue of the fact that they were held at Shannon airport in conditions that amounted to torture.
The following are just some of the legal provisions that are immediately relevant.
Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act, 2000
3.—A person, whatever his or her nationality, whether within or outside the State, who—
(a) attempts to commit or conspires to commit the offence of torture, or
(b) does an act with the intent to obstruct or impede the arrest or prosecution of another person, including a person who is a public official, in relation to the offence of torture,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life.
United Nations CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.
Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present, shall take him into custody or take other legal measures to ensure his presence.
All of the above international and Irish law provision have been breached by authorities including the Gardai at Shannon airport.