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UK seeking immunity for Saudi officials who allegedly tortured Britons

[JURIST] The UK government said Monday that it plans to intervene in a case brought by a group of British citizens against Saudi Arabian officials who allegedly tortured them to argue that foreign officials who torture British citizens abroad should not be subject to civil lawsuits in British courts. The government is joining a Saudi Arabian appeal of a 2004 ruling [opinion; JURIST report] by Britain's Court of Appeal [official website] that while foreign governments are immune from prosecution, individuals who actually carry out the torture could be subject to lawsuits. The case involves four British men who claim they were tortured until they confessed to a series of terrorist bombings [BBC backgrounder] in the capital of Saudi Arabia in 2000 and 2001. The men claim that they are innocent but were forced to confess.

The British government has been criticized for its decision to intervene in the case by a lawyer representing three of the tortured men who said that the UK government is blocking these men from seeking retribution for the torture inflicted upon them. However, a spokesperson for the UK Department for Constitutional Affairs [official website] said that the case is not about the government's attitude toward torture but is purely a jurisdictional issue. The case is scheduled to be heard on April 26. AP has more; from the UK, the Guardian has local coverage.

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