HC Deb 07 November 1966 vol 735 cc963-4
24. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he is taking to obtain the release of Mr. Martin Leonard, detained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 16th June.

Mrs. White

Mr. Leonard is held on charges of attempted murder and being in a restricted area in Lubumbashi airport.

Her Majesty's Embassy in Kinshasa have repeatedly pressed the Congolese authorities for Mr. Leonard's release or his early trial. I have myself recently seen the Congolese Ambassador in London, who expressed his concern and who has referred the matter to his Government.

Mr. Ridsdale

Can the hon. Lady say when Her Majesty's consul last visited the man? I have information at a date at the end of last month that in October this man was without sleep for 70 hours and without food for six days. There is no hospital. Are the Red Cross Conventions being observed? Will she look into this as a matter of urgency?

Mrs. White

We have had regular consular access to Mr. Leonard. He himself went on voluntary hunger strike, but I am happy to say that it is now ended. We have no reason to suppose that the conditions in which he is held are unreasonable, but we are very anxious indeed that he should be brought rapidly to trial.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Would the hon. Lady consider trying to enable Amnesty to look into this case and similar cases?

Mrs. White

There is no reason whatever for Amnesty so to do. Mr. Leonard is detained in accordance with the law on a criminal charge. There is no question of any political aspect in this.