Ministers to face EU grilling in CIA flights probe

GOVERNMENT ministers will be among the Irish witnesses asked to attend the European Parliament’s hearing into CIA rendition flights.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell and former Army Major Edward Horgan, who wrote a report on CIA plane movements at Shannon, are on the list of people who will be asked to give evidence over the next few months.

The parliament is interested in finding out whether abductees were on any of the CIA flights that landed at Shannon.

The Government says it is satisfied with assurances from the US administration that the planes weren’t carrying prisoners. They have also refused to demand access to inspect any future flights using the airport.

The committee intends to visit Washington to talk to a number of US officials, journalists and politicians, including Senator John Kerry and CIA director Porter Goss.

Claudio Fava of the committee said they wanted first-hand information.

“We want to talk to people on the ground, to witnesses, the people who have been abducted and those that can give us direct information,” he said in the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday.

One of those abducted, German citizen Khaled El-Masri, who was held and tortured in Afghanistan for four months, will give his evidence in mid-March.

The committee has set itself the task of discovering if the CIA carried out rendition flights and torture on EU territory, including candidate countries; have EU citizens been abducted; were member states aware or complicit; and has EU, national or international law been violated.

The committee plans to have a preliminary report completed by July and a final report early next year and is also cooperating with the Council of Europe’s investigation.

Any member state found to be complicit in abductions would be in breach of EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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