After spending five “hellish” years in the notorious American detention center of Guantanamo, a young Moroccan plans to turn a new leaf. “I’m delighted to be back with my family and friends,” a visibly relieved Mohamed Benmoujane remarked. “I will go back to school which I quit years ago to pursue the elusive dream for seeking a better life abroad.”
Â Last week, a Moroccan court acquitted Benmoujane of all terrorism charges including membership of a terrorist group.
“I was only 19 years when the Pakistani forces detained me on the Afghan borders after September 11 attacks,” he recalled.
Â “They handed me over to the Americans who held me in Kandahar for a month before shipping me to Guantanamo.” The US authorities acquitted Benmoujane and returned him to Morocco in October 2006. Unlike other Moroccan detainees, he was not released after arriving back from Guantanamo.
Â He was initially sentenced to 10 years in jail by a Moroccan court before the court of appeal quashed it and set him free. “Well-wishers have since been flocking to our home to join our celebration,” said his sister Bushra. “We still could not believe that Benmoujane is finally back with us.”
Â Benmoujane said he would never be able to forget the years he spent behind Guantanamo high-walls. “All I can say is that Guantanamo was an unbearable hell in the full sense of the word. “Staying there for a few hours is nightmare, let alone having to anguish there for years,” he recalled bitterly. “This place lacks the simplest principles of respect for a human life.”
Â Washington has been holding hundreds of detainees at the top security detention facility, which Amnesty likens to gulag prisons, the Soviet detention centers notorious for torturing political prisoners and suspects. Benmoujane said detainees in the notorious camp are subject to abuse.” They torture, humiliate and insult everyone,” he added.
Â “They forced us to take hallucination pills during interrogation to force to talk,” Benmoujane said, remembering that after the pills they would just keep talking for hours. He noted that after months of interrogations the Americans told him they had nothing on him. “Yet they left me anguishing in this horrible place for years after that.”