A not-so-happy birthday for Ramze Shihab Amhed

The last time I blogged about Ramze Shihab Ahmed, the dual Iraqi-UK national detained in Iraq, things were well, extremely uncertain.

They still are.

Today is his birthday (hes 69). But I dont think hell be celebrating. Ramze remains mired in Iraqs notoriously poor legal system, facing a further three separate trial procedures relating to alleged terrorist offences after being acquitted in two. (Latest news Ive just heard is that a recent court hearing in the third of the five cases has been postponed, again, to 10 July. There is a Bleak House-type endlessness to this legal process)

As those whove followed this complicated and deeply troubling case will know, Ramze has previously spoken of being horribly tortured during the first months of his secret disappearance-like detention in late 2009.

Those allegations of how he was abused with electric shocks, suspension by his feet, suffocation with a plastic bag have never been independently investigated. There is still a fear that at one of his court appearances the authorities will attempt to use a confession he or others made while allegedly suffering torture to seal his supposed guilt (its something Amnestys been concerned about for years in post-Saddam Iraq, even in capital trials).

Indeed, there are currently 15 men in Iraq facing imminent execution after several of them gave confessions on television (another highly dubious quasi-judicial tactic thats sprung up in recent years). Like Ramze, the men were reportedly detained incommunicado for weeks, heightening the risk that they were tortured (read more and take action for these men here).

With this group of 15 the worry is that they were hustled through an unfair legal process and are now being fast-tracked to the gallows. With Ramze Shihab Ahmed one of the underlying fears is that a grindingly slow and maddeningly unclear legal process will take a heavy physical toll on a man whose health was already poor before all this began more than a year and half ago.

Please support our campaign to ensure Ramze gets a fair trial and that his allegations of suffering torture are fully investigated.

I know his wife in London Rabiha is campaigning hard for Ramze and will be thinking of him even more than usual today. So I am I, actually. Happy birthday, Ramze.

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