Europe's top human rights court, based in Strasbourg, France, ruled Thursday that Poland violated the rights of two terror suspects Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah by allowing the CIA to secretly imprison them on Polish soil from 2002-2003 and facilitating the conditions under which they were subject to torture.
The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights marked the first time any court has passed judgment on the so-called "renditions program" that President George W. Bush launched after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The court said Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to stop the "torture and inhuman or degrading treatment" of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, who were transported to Poland in 2002.
It ordered Poland to pay 130,000 euros ($175,000) to Zubaydah, a Palestinian terror suspect, and 100,000 euros ($135,000) to al-Nashiri, a Saudi national charged with orchestrating the attack in 2000 on the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors.
It a statement explaining its ruling, the court said the interrogations and ill-treatment of the suspects at the facility in Stare Kiekuty, a remote village in northern Poland, was "the exclusive responsibility of the CIA and it was unlikely that the Polish officials had witnessed or known exactly what happened inside the facility." It argued, however, that Poland should have ensured that individuals held in its jurisdiction would not be subjected to degrading treatment. "For all practical purposes, Poland had facilitated the whole process, had created the conditions for it to happen and had made no attempt to prevent it from occurring," the court said.
The court also faulted Poland for failing to conduct an effective investigation into the matter. The government launched an investigation in 2008 but there are no signs that it is close to coming to a conclusion.
President Bronislaw Komorowski called the judgment "embarrassing" to Poland, and damaging both financially and to its image.