Britain Fails to Detain Bahrain's `Torturer in Chief' ; HUMAN RIGHTS Head of Secret Police in Gulf State Is Allowed to Holiday in Devon, as Legal Trials of Former Chile Dictator Go On
Lashmar, Paul, The Independent (London, England)
THE FORMER head of the secret police in the Gulf State of Bahrain, who stands accused of torture, has spent New Year on holiday in England untroubled by the British authorities.
Six weeks ago Colonel Ian Henderson faced new accusations of overseeing torture sessions in Bahrain where pro-democracy activists are ruthlessly persecuted.
Under a law that came into force in 1998 anyone involved in torture anywhere in the world can be arrested and prosecuted in Britain. However, a joint investigation by The Independent and Channel 4 News found Colonel Henderson and his wife, Marie, enjoying a holiday at a house in Dartmoor, Devon. They had flown into Britain just after Christmas.
In an interview with Channel 4 News, he said allegations that he had been involved in torture were "laughable". He said that the charges were invented by opposition groups in Bahrain to attract media attention.
Last week Lord Avebury, vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, said he had written to the office of the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, asking for action to be taken against Mr Henderson while he was in this country. Campaigners also contacted police. Lord Avebury said: "I'd love to see him [Colonel Henderson] before the magistrates in the same way that [General] Pinochet was, except that, of course he would finish up in our prisons and he would get a very long sentence, I hope, for the crimes he has committed."
Against a background of recent controversies over the treatment of the Chilean dictator and the alleged Nazi Konrad Kalejs, this case reveals further confusion in the Home Office about who can be detained over allegations of human rights abuse.
A spokeswoman from the Redress Trust, which seeks reparation for the victims of torture, is pressing for action to be taken against Col Henderson. She said: "When Britain became a party to the International Convention against Torture, it took on the responsibility to bring to justice suspected torturers who come within our borders."
There has been a growing movement for the restoration of democracy in Bahrain since the state's rulers abolished the national assembly in 1975. The security services in Bahrain under …
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Publication information: Article title: Britain Fails to Detain Bahrain's `Torturer in Chief' ; HUMAN RIGHTS Head of Secret Police in Gulf State Is Allowed to Holiday in Devon, as Legal Trials of Former Chile Dictator Go On. Contributors: Lashmar, Paul - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 6, 2000. Page number: 2. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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