A United Nations official has said a U.S. military base in the Kosovo
region is the site of a secret prison.
Talking about Camp Bondsteel in eastern Kosovo, U.N. Ombudsman Marek Nowicki told
the German daily Berliner Zeitung:
"There can't be any doubt that since several years a secret prison
exists inside Camp Bondsteel, a prison that doesn't succumb to any civil or
legal control," he said. "We have to ask the question what actually
goes on in there."
Nowicki is a seasoned human rights expert -- he heads the U.N.'s ombudsman office
in Kosovo, and for years was the president of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
and senior judge at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Roughly 6,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed at Bondsteel. Located near the town
of Ferizaj, it is the main base of U.S. troops under command of the Kosovo Force,
widely known as KFOR, in the U.N. protectorate of Kosovo. KFOR has stated no such
secret prison exists there.
Those assurances remain questionable until U.N. officials can finally inspect
the base, Nowicki said.
The ombudsman visited Bondsteel in 2000 and 2001, he said. "The prison looked
like the pictures we know from Guantanamo Bay."
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Nowicki was denied access to the camp.
Amnesty International also claims that Bondsteel is a site of illegal imprisonments.
It has reported that several Arabic individuals have been detained there
for months "under the massive violation of international laws."
Amnesty International was never able to investigate, it said.
Nowicki said Bondsteel was "totally out of control," and
added: "In truth, we have no idea what goes on in there."