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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Saudi and Sandy

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The visit of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to Britain should remind us of Sandy Mitchell’s experiences, the Guardian reported sometime ago:

“Sandy Mitchell stands in the doorway to the living room of his house in west Yorkshire. He raises his right arm above his head and places it against the door frame. “I stood for nine days like this with my hand chained up,” he says. “Every now and again somebody would come into my cell and prod me to make sure I was awake.” Mitchell, 49, is describing how he was held in a 5 x 8ft cell at the Mabatha interrogation centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is a well built man, but there is a timidity in his eyes that distinguishes him from any Glaswegian I’ve ever met, as if he’s had his natural vivacity beaten out of him.

“There was a thin mattress over there,” he says, pointing to a spot a few feet away. “But I couldn’t get to it because I was chained up. All during the night I would be tortured. They punched, kicked and spat at me, and later hit me with sticks. They used an axe handle to beat the soles of my feet. I would have confessed to anything to stop the pain.”

Outside, it’s a fine May morning in Sowerby Bridge, one of the former mill towns strung along the Calder Valley. In the front garden, Mitchell’s Thai wife Noi is planting sweetpeas. Their six-and-a-half year old son Matthew is flourishing at school, and there is another baby on the way. It’s a lovely house, I say. “My MP Alice Mahon got it for us. Worked her magic for us with the council. We’re going to put some flagstones in the back garden and grow some trees at the back to give us more privacy.”

Mitchell had no hopes that he would get out of Saudi alive, still less that he would be able to piece his life together like this. For 32 months between December 2000 and August 2003 he was jailed in Riyadh for a murder he did not commit, the car bombing of a British engineer called Christopher Rodway in November 2000. Mitchell was tortured until he confessed, forced to read his confession on TV, tortured again to ensure he wouldn’t recant, and then sentenced to death in 2002 after a 10-minute secret trial. ”

The New Statesman looked into the Whitehall cover up:

“The victims of Saudi repression are, of course, mainly the Saudi people themselves, but expatriates living and working there have also been targeted. When a Briton, Christopher Rodway, was murdered in a car bomb in November 2000 scapegoats were found among his compatriots. Sandy Mitchell, Bill Sampson and Leslie Walker were among those arrested for the murder and for further bombings, although they had nothing to do with them. They were tortured and forced to sign confessions dictated by their captors. The “confessions”, videoed and then televised, ludicrously claimed that they had been acting on the instructions of named officials of the British embassy. At a sham trial (condemned later by a UN special rapporteur), the confessions were rubber-stamped by the judges. Sandy and Bill were sentenced to execution by crucifixion.”

The British political classes will go to almost any lengths to suck up and placate the Saudi monarchy, they couldn’t give a damn about the likes of Sandy Mitchell.

Human rights are a mere after thoughts for Whitehall mandarins and politicians, nothing will interfere with the skulduggery and dodgy deals with the House of Saud.

Written by modernityblog

01/11/2007 at 23:35

Posted in Uncategorized

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