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Cablegate: Niger: Released Detainee Tells His Story

VZCZCXRO9298
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0487 1300655
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 090655Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4297
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000487

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: RELEASED DETAINEE TELLS HIS STORY

1. (SBU) Aziz Ameyagi was released from Niger's high security
Kutokalle Prison on May 5 after eight months of detainment
On May 8 he recounted his saga to the Embassy Development
Coordinator.

2. (SBU) Aziz was a senior person in Africare,s Agadez
office. He was arrested by gendarmes last August while
refueling his car at the filling station in Agadez. He was
detained for 22 days at the gendarmerie in Agadez. He was
then put in chains and transported in rough conditions from
Agadez to the Kutokalle Prison, which is about 50 kilometers
from Niamey on the road to Tillaberi. He was with five other
Tuaregs who had also been arrested in Agadez. They do not
know why they were taken to Kutokalle, far from their
families.

3. (SBU) While in Kutokalle, Aziz says he was not abused and
that all human rights norms were respected. His family was
able to see him during visiting hours and bring him food and
other items. He gained over 30 pounds while in prison.
However, he also said that he slept in a room of about 4
meters square with 23 other prisoners. He said he would have
probably died if his family had not been able to bring him
food, as the prison food is terrible. Showers were taken in
groups and they were each given one bar of soap each month.
Staying well in prison was a big challenge and Aziz is going
for a full medical check up. One of the people released with
him is now in the hospital with meningitis. He said that
there were 200 prisoners (198 Muslims and 2 Christians) in
Kutokalle, including some of the worst criminals from all
parts of Niger. He says he associated with murders and some
real psycho cases.

4. (SBU) Aziz's family, and the family of the five others,
hired three attorneys to pursue their case in the courts.
Thanks to the lawyers' efforts and a new, young and
understanding judge, all six were eventually freed. The judge
who freed them was shocked to find that there was nothing in
their files, not even the usual statement that every gendarme
and police officer does as a matter of routine when they
arrest someone. They paid their attorneys cfa 6 million
(about $14,000). Aziz believe that if they had not been able
to engage attorneys, they would still be in jail. He is
considering bringing a damage suit against the government.

5. (SBU) Aziz is happy to have his freedom but feels that he
lost 8 months of his life in terrible conditions for no
reason. He says he is innocent and that the gendarmes who
arrested him had no information whatsoever on which to base
his arrest. He says his arrest was totally arbitrary and
that he was the unlucky victim of a random action that was
without any rational foundation.

6. (SBU) Aziz said that he came away from his experience with
the impression that most of the people in prison have been
there for years without ever having seen a judge. He says he
would like to start a local NGO to help such prisoners find
justice.
ALLEN

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