Ramda, ten years of diplomatic trial of strength

Ramda, ten years of diplomatic trial of strength

London refused his extradition asserting of risks of « degrading treatment » in France

By Armelle THORAVAL , Libération, February 17, 2006

London from our correspondant

It is not the first time that publicly emerge charges of ill treatments against the men managed in 1995 by the police chief Marion. It falls far short of it. Forceful methods and suspicions of torture are at the heart of the conflict which put forward, during ten years, France and Great Britain against the extradition of Rachid Ramda, which besides underlines the book of the reporters of Le Point.

Presented as the decision-maker of the vagueness of attacks which terrorizes France as from July, Rachid Ramda, Al-Ansar writer, the clandestine bulletin of the Algerian GIA published in London, is held pending extradition on November 10, 1995. During the six years which will follow, London prevents his extradition.
A political refusal interpreted in Paris as the proof of the pact of peace dealed with the Islamists of Londonistan. It is necessary to wait for the attacks of September 11, 2001 so that on background of hardening of the British antiterrorist law the Home secretary David Blunkett re-opens the file and orders the extradition. Ramda appeals. At the end of June 2002, the procedure fails: on appeal, the two judges refuse to extradite him. They put forward the risk of « degrading treatment ».

Stormy arrest or forceful police custody?

To understand this refusal, it is necessary to go back to November 1, 1995. This day, Boualem Bensaïd, since sentenced for life for his participation in the attacks of Saint-Michel, the Maison-Blanche subway, the Paris-Lyon TGV and the Musée-d’Orsay station, is arrested and took to the buildings of the 6th division of the Criminal Investigation Department (DPJ), within the framework of the examination led by the judge Bruguière. On November 2, 1995, a doctor notes a « bruise » on Bensaïd’s forehead. In the night of November 2, a second doctor does not note anything. But on November 3, Doctor Becour, doctor of the forensic urgencies (UMJ) of the Hôtel-Dieu, finds that Bensaïd gets amazing marks on his face, in fact he seems to have been beaten up. On November 6, Valerie Dubois, Bensaïd’s duty lawyer, writes a note about the bad look of her client, she gives it to judge Bruguière and asks him to make a medical valuation. The judge adds the note to one of the files. However it is on November 4 that Bensaïd started speaking about his London associate, Rachid Ramda. Other elements accuse Ramda, and in particular small transfers made in the Western Union of a district of the south-west of London. But Bensaïd’s statements are fundamental.

At the time, there is no medical assessment. The lawyer does not follow up the judge. And Jean-Louis Bruguière « forgets » the hitch. He would have only affirmed to Valerie Dubois that the « substantial zones of bruises » came not from the police custody but from the stormy arrest of her client, despite the first medical certificates. The episode is closed. Until 2001. The new lawyers of Bensaïd then trot out again the story before the Assize Court of Paris. That will not have more effect.

Then the file is revived in London. Medical certificate, note of the lawyer: these elements are passed on Ramda’s British solicitors, who appeal against the extradition. Gareth Peirce, figure of the British bar and specialist in impossible causes, multiply the questions: Was Bensaïd beaten up at the time of his arrest, whereas he tried to flee, or during his police custody, to help him to confess? If the implication of Ramda by Bensaïd were obtained by force, what can fear Ramda? For the Court of Appeal of London, it is a question of understanding if French justice does correctly its work towards the suspects, and if Ramda incurs the risk to get knocks too. The debate begins on a first time in 2002 in front of judges Sedley and Poole, who refuse the extradition: they have the feeling that French justice lied in 1997 while not to mention the note of Me Dubois and the medical certificates. They consider that Ramda, « as an Algerian suspected of terrorist crimes, is exposed to the risk of inhuman and degrading treatment « .

« Bensaïd never lodged a complaint for torture »

Three years later, on last October 15, after a new extradition order from the Home Office, the case returned to the same court, this time in front of judges Keene and Poole. « Boulaem Bensaïd never lodged a complaint for torture », attacked James Lewis, pleading for the French government. To calm the British, Paris assured that judge Bruguière would have carried out « informal investigations » a curiosity for French law. « It is really incredible that the judge did not make any investigation! » ED Fitzgerald then opposed, pleading for Ramda.

This discussion on the methods of the antiterrorist police force will take up again on February 27. Ramda, finally turned over to French justice, must be tried before the Assize Court of Paris for criminal conspiracy. « This episode of the police custody will obviously recross the debates », note his solicitors, Guillaume Barbe and Benoit Dietsch. This last adds: « And that no one tells us that anybody never know anything about what occured… »