EU to rule over cases of Saudi ‘torture’

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Four Britons, including a man from Halifax, who were blocked by UK courts from suing foreign officials who allegedly tortured them while they were held in Saudi Arabian jails will find out this week if European judges regard the refusal as a breach of human rights.

Ronald Jones, Alexander Mitchell, William Sampson and Leslie Walker claim they were subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation and anal rape as well as being given mind-altering drugs following their arrest in 2000 in Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh.

Mr Mitchell, of Sowerby, near Halifax, Mr Walker and Mr Sampson were arrested after a series of terrorist bombings in Riyadh and Khobar, eastern Saudi Arabia, and claimed they were tortured into admitting responsibility.

Mr Jones, was seized after being injured in a bomb blast outside a bookshop.

The British men were all released after an al-Qaida attack in May 2003 by nine suicide bombers in Riyadh, which disproved official Saudi claims that the attacks were the result of an alcohol turf war among Westerners.

The case was taken to the European Court of Human Rights, which will give its judgment tomorrow, amid concerns the refusal of UK courts to allow the men to sue Saudi Arabia or its officials for compensation breached article six of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2002, Mr Jones brought proceedings against Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior and the man who he alleges tortured him.

His application was struck out in February 2003 on the grounds that Saudi Arabia and its officials were entitled to state immunity.

A claim by Mr Mitchell, Mr Sampson and Mr Walker against four individuals they considered to be responsible for their torture was struck out for the same reason in February 2004.

In 2004, the Court of Appeal found, though Mr Jones could not sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, cases could be pursued against the individual defendants – but this was overturned in 2006.