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Judge Criticizes German Officials Over ‘Bin Laden Bodyguard’ Deportation

2018-08-17 15:05
A German judge has criticized authorities for deporting a man who once allegedly protected Osama bin Laden. The 42-year-old man, known as Sami A., was listed as dangerous by authorities and was sent back to his native Tunisia in mid-July. But now, the North Rhine-Westphalia state's administrative court is calling for him to be brought back to the country. Sami. A’s full name, Sami Aidoudi, is not disclosed to German media due to privacy laws. The suspected bin Laden aide was deported to Tunisia on July 13. The administrative court in Gelsenkirchen had ruled on July 12 that Aidoudi should remain in Germany, fearing Aidoudi may face torture in Tunisia. But the court’s decision, which was faxed to authorities, arrived too late. He was already on his flight to the North African country. The deportation of the Aidoudi has sparked a debate in Germany on the independence of the judiciary. 'Sense of Justice' North Rhine-Westphalia state’s top judge, Ricarda Brandts, was quoted by news agency DPA as saying, "The limits of the state of law were clearly tested here." She said that officials withheld information to deport him and has ordered the city of Bochum, where Aidoudi lived with his family since 1997, to have him returned to Germany. The court rejected a complaint by Bochum against his return. "The case of Sami A. raises questions about democracy and the rule of law—especially on the separation of powers and effective legal protection," Brandts said, according to dpa. Bochum had argued that a return obligation was not given, and the deportation was lawful. It can now appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court. Brandts said there had been "significant public pressure" to deport him, including from high-ranking politicians, and "this demand created expectations—expectations that this had to happen." In separate comments to Thursday's edition of the Rheinische Post daily, the state government's interior minister criticized the court's decision. While the courts' independence is important, "judges should always keep in mind that their decisions correspond with the population's sense of justice," Herbert Reul was quoted as saying. "I doubt whether that is the case with this decision." Who is 'Sami A.'? German security services consider Aidoudi to be a dangerous and prominent figure of the Islamist scene in the country and have had him under observation since at least 2006, the Rheinische Post reported. “That such a man is allowed to stay in Germany is a punch in the face to all anti-terror investigators,” an unnamed security source told the newspaper. “He protected the most wanted man in the world and we treat him with kid gloves,” the source said, referring to allegations that Aidoudi served as bodyguard to bin Laden, charges the suspect denies. Bin Laden, who ran the al-Qaeda terrorist group and approved of the 9/11 attack in America in 2011, was shot and killed in Pakistan by U.S. Special Forces. According to reports, Aidoudi was receiving 1,168 euros ($1,330) a month in welfare payments while living in Bochum. Torture in Tunisia The court’s deportation ban upheld an assessment that al-Qaeda affiliated Aidoudi could face “torture and inhumane treatment” in Tunisia. A spokesman for Tunisia’s anti-terrorist judiciary body, Sofian Sliti, rejected concerns Aidoudi would face torture in the country, which is in the middle of a democratic transition after the toppling of autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. “We confirm that this will not happen. We confirm that the judiciary is independent and will not allow such practices. He is a citizen with full rights in a fair trial,” Sliti said. Tunis authorities have since released Aidoudi, with Reuters citing Sliti on July 27 as saying that there was insufficient evidence to continue holding him, but investigations continue. It remains unclear if and when Aidoudi will return to Germany. Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.