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Lawyer: South Africa Involved in 'Rendition' of Pakistani


The lawyer for a Pakistani who disappeared in South Africa says he will bring to court government leaders he says were involved in the abduction, or "rendition" of his client. The South African government says there was nothing irregular about its deportation of the Pakistani.

Since last November, lawyer Zehir Omar has been trying to establish the whereabouts of Khalid Mahmood Rashid, who disappeared following his arrest in Kwazulu/Natal, allegedly on charges of being an illegal immigrant.

South Africa's High Court in Pretoria ordered the government to inform Rashid's family, through their lawyer, of his whereabouts.

Officials from the Department of Home Affairs said Rashid was legally deported to Pakistan. The lawyer says the department told him Rashid was transported from South Africa's Waterkloof Air Force Base, after being handed to Pakistani officials. They said he left November 6 on a privately chartered aircraft registered in the United Arab Emirates as A6-PHY.

Omar says his client was forcibly sent to an unknown third country at the request of the British government - a practice known as rendition.

"The British authorities requested the Minister of Intelligence or police of our country to abduct and transport Rashid away," he said. "The reason given was because Rashid was expected to be linked to an international terrorist organization, without any substantiation being given. If Rashid was sought for a crime, a simple extradition process would have been the appropriate procedure to have been used."

Omar says the aircraft the government says Rashid was transported in has been used previously in renditions.

" ... this private aircraft was previously used for the purpose of rendition by the CIA and British Intelligence. What is disturbing is what is the intimacy of our Minister of Intelligence, our Minister of Police with that gentleman who is the owner of that aircraft," he noted.

Omar says he intends to return to the High Court to seek an order declaring the arrest, detention and deportation of Khalid Rashid unlawful. At the same time, he says he will seek subpoenas to compel any and all government officials involved in what he calls Rashid's abduction, including cabinet ministers, to reveal what they know about Rashid's current whereabouts.

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