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Yemen: Alkarama and HOOD condemn the death of a Yemeni detainee in Guantanamo

American military authorities declared the death of a 32 year old detainee, Adnan Farhan Abdel Latif al-Sharaabi, in a statement issued on Tuesday 11 September 2012. The statement said that the detainee died on Saturday 8 September 2012, that a team of military doctors performed an autopsy and that some time is needed before the results of the autopsy can be announced.
The family of the deceased has asked for an international investigation and an autopsy to be performed by an independent body, so that the military authorities do not manipulate the evidence to remove any signs of its involvement in an "extra-judicial killing" given that Adnan is the third Yemeni citizen to die in this prison. The family also condemned the continued secret and mysterious deaths of prisoners in the American Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba.

Alkarama and HOOD express their deepest condolence to the family of the victim and fear that the autopsy results may be manipulated by the military authorities to hide any evidence of the circumstances of death, similar to the previous case of the Yemeni prisoner Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmad al-Salmi whose corpse was returned from Guantanamo in 2006 and the US authorities alleged that he committed suicide. A Swiss medical panel later disputed the American narrative after it performed an autopsy as authorised by Alkarama on behalf of the victim's family. The panel revealed that important organs of Mr al-Salmi's body were removed which could have provided further evidence on the cause of death.

Mr Rachid Mesli, the Legal Director of Alkarama in Geneva said regarding the death of Mr al-Sharaabi: "The credibility of the American administration is on trial given the many doubts about this story"

The family of Mr al-Sharaabi claims that the American story seems confused and contradictory. It claims that Mr al-Sharaabi had a mental condition, but his American lawyers say that he was talented and wrote poetry. The American military authorities claim that he attempted suicide more than once, yet it also confirms that the victim was not accused of any crime and did not come before a military court, which makes it difficult to understand why he would attempt to commit suicide, knowing his innocence and that the American authorities had not even tried him.

According to his family's testimony, Mr al-Sharaabi went on hunger strike several times which led the prison authorities once to "insert a plastic tube in his stomach in order to force feed him which caused him health complications, and he was later transported to hospital, where a medical operation was carried out". His family adds that he was tortured by the prison guards on several occasions, which he revealed during his communication with his family via the Red Cross, the last of which occurred last June, when he seemed to be in good health.

Mr Abdel Rahman Barman, a lawyer in HOOD, explained that there are 58 Yemeni prisoners in Guantanamo who were declared innocent by a military administrative review tribunal, among which were the late Mr al-Sharaabi. The tribunal recommended that he be released in December 2006, then in January 2008, but the recommendations were not acted upon. According to his family, he did appeal the legality of his detention before a federal court which ruled that he was innocent on 21 July 2010. Mr Barman said that HOOD and Alkarama are working together currently to present a complaint to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

In any case, HOOD and Alkarama hold the US responsible for the death of Mr al-Sharaabi, because of its failure so far to live up to its promise to close the Guantanamo prison. We ask that Mr al-Sharaabi's remains be delivered to his family immediately, with due respect to his human dignity and no interference with his corpse. Our organisations reaffirm their opinion that maintaining the Guantanamo prison is a shameful blight on the human rights record, not only of the US, but of the whole world, for its silence regarding the ongoing human rights violations occurring in this detention camp.