Pakistanis tell of beatings, threats to life

Three Pakistanis who claim they were abducted by secret agents and interrogated about terrorist attacks in London yesterday spoke out, alleging they had been beaten and threatened, and piled more pressure on the government, which has denied the story. Muhammad Munir, Ashar Mahmood and Shoukat Nawaz held a joint press conference in Athens which was organized by the umbrella union, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), and the Stop the War Coalition. It was the first time the men had spoken in public about what allegedly happened last summer. The men said that the house in which they were living, in the neighborhood of Petralona, was raided on the evening of July 17 – 10 days after four bombs went off in London killing 56 people. «Seven or eight people came and told us they were police but they were not wearing uniforms,» said Munir speaking through a translator. «They asked for my cell phone and when I told them I did not have one, they handcuffed me, made me face the wall and began to beat me.» The men said they had their T-shirts pulled over their heads so they could not see and were taken by van to a location about an hour and a half away. They claimed that the men who abducted them were Greeks, apart from a black British man and an interpreter who spoke Pakistani. «Ten to 12 people questioned me in a room for two and a half hours. They asked me whether I knew what happened in London and threatened to take me to England for more questioning,» said Munir. The Greek government and the Pakistani Embassy denied any knowledge of the incident when the claims resurfaced in December. The British government also rejected claims its agents were involved in the alleged operation. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis described the matter as a «provocation or a joke» and vehemently denied any involvement of Greek officers. His strong denials now appear misjudged. Some New Democracy figures have privately criticized his handling of the affair. Chief Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos has already launched an investigation into the allegations. PASOK yesterday called for Voulgarakis and Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras to appear before a parliamentary committee next Wednesday. The three Pakistanis also alleged that they were told to keep quiet about the incident. «When they let us go they told us not to talk. They said that if we did they would slit our throats,» said Munir, who claimed he was held for a total of seven days at two locations.

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