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EU Parliament to Probe Alleged CIA Prisons

Leaders of party groups of the European Parliament agreed on Wednesday to set up a temporary ad hoc committee to look into the allegations of the Central Intelligence Agency's secret jails and illegal transport of terrorist suspects in Europe.

"The Conference of Presidents of the political groups this afternoon have taken a decision in principle to set up a temporary ad hoc committee on the alleged use by the CIA of European countries for the illegal transport and detention of prisoners," the parliament said in a statement.

The draft mandate and the composition of this committee will be determined by the Conference of Presidents at its first meeting in 2006 and will be put to the vote at the parliament's plenary session in January, it said.

The Council of Europe, a major human rights watchdog, last month opened a probe into reports that the United States secretly held terrorist suspects in Europe and used European soil to transfer the detainees.

Italy, Spain and Germany also have launched judicial inquiries into whether their national airports were used in CIA "renditions" of terrorist suspects, or extra-judicial abductions. Poland announced this weekend that it would investigate whether it had been the European center of a secret CIA prison network.

Following the Washington Post revelations last month of CIA covert prisons in Eastern Europe, a human rights group named Poland and Romania as the countries involved. But both countries have denied the charges.

On Tuesday, the Socialist leader of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, said the parliament wants to find out to what extent EU bodies or member states have been involved in the activities which allegedly resulted in infringements of human rights.

"It is obvious that if these allegations are confirmed, the candidate countries involved in such activities would face consequences relating to their accession process," Schultz said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2005)

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