Four men were transferred from the Guantanamo Bay prison to European countries, where some will await trial. (photo, from aljazeera.net)
Late on Monday, a pair of Tunisian men arrived in the northern Italian city of Milan. A prosecutor told the Associated Press news agency that the prisoners were taken into custody to be tried on “terrorism” charges.
Adel Ben Mabrouk, 39, and Mohamed Ben Rjadh Nasri, 43, are accused of being members of a group that has links to al-Qaeda and of recruiting people to fight in Afghanistan.
According to the prosecutor, Mabrouk and Nasri travelled to Afghanistan from Italy from where they acted to aid Tunisians undertaking suicide attacks.
Both have been held for more than seven years in the US detainment camp in Guantanamo, Cuba.
‘Concrete political sign’
The Italian justice minister, Angelino Alfano, said the transfer deal was signed with the US in September.
He explained that accepting the pair was a “concrete political sign” of Rome’s commitment to assist in closing the controversial camp, a stated aim of Barack Obama, the US president.
A US official also said that two other men have been relocated to France and Hungary.
Early on Tuesday, Saber Lahmer, an Algerian, arrived in Bordeaux, in south-west France.
Captured in 2001 in Bosnia, Lahmer was accused of being part of a group that was plotting to bomb the US embassy in Sarajevo.
Later, the allegations against him and five other people were dropped because the evidence against them was judged insignificant.
“We are grateful for the courage and generosity of the French people and government,” said Robert Kirsch, Lahmer’s American lawyer.
He added that Lahmer has been given “a chance to rebuild his life”.
The fourth man was not identified.
The US president has set a deadline of January 22, 2010 to close Guantanamo Bay. But last month, Obama said the deadline would not be met because of political and diplomatic issues, such as the difficulty in finding recipient nations for detainees.
213 detainees are currently being held in Guantanamo Bay. After being opened in 2002, the prison has come under extensive international criticism for detention without trial and harsh interrogation methods.
Monday’s moves brings the number of detainees transferred from Guantanamo under Obama’s administration to 30. All, bar one, have been sent to other nations.