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calendar   Wednesday - April 09, 2008

Deportation ruling blow to terror strategy

Deportation ruling blow to terror strategy

By Andrew Porter, Political Editor
Last Updated: 6:59pm BST 09/04/2008

Plans to deport terror suspects have been dealt a devastating blow after judges ruled that it was wrong to return suspects even if a memorandum of understanding existed between Britain and another country.
Uncertain World:
The Home Office was forced to abandon plans to deport 12 other suspects being held in Britain as a result.

Abu Qatada will not be deported
It came as in a separate ruling, Abu Qatada, the firebrand preacher once described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, won his fight against deportation from Britain that could lead to him being released from prison.

Qatada has been convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998, and of plotting to plant bombs at the Millennium.

The radical cleric once called on British Muslims to martyr themselves, and tapes of his sermons were found in a flat in Germany used by some of the September 11 hijackers.

Previously, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) dismissed Qatada’s appeal against deportation to Jordan on the grounds that his human rights would not be breached because Amman had signed an MOU.

Both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair had promised that the new “memoranda of understanding” (MOUs) with other nations would ensure that they could be deported even if those countries sometimes carry out torture. The Government would have assurances that the men returned home would not be tortured.

advertisementLord Justice Buxton, giving the ruling of the panel of judges, concluded that because of the issue of evidence obtained by torture in Jordan, Siac had misdirected itself in law and its decision could not stand.

Tony McNulty, the Home Office minister, said: “I am pleased that the courts dismissed all but one of Abu Qatada’s reasons for appeal.

“We are seeking to overturn that point, and I believe that we will be able to secure his deportation to Jordan and we will push for it as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, he remains behind bars.”

In a separate case, two Libyans known only as AS and DD won their appeals against deportation. The decision led the Home Office to drop the deportation case against them and 10 other Libyans suspected of terrorism.

It is believed that AS and DD, who were previously on bail from SIAC, have now been handed control orders. Other steps - including further control orders - have been imposed on the other 10 Libyans, it is understood.

The development is highly damaging to the Government’s policy of seeking agreements with foreign countries to deport terror suspects. The so-called MOUs are designed to give reassurance that countries with poor human rights records will not torture or ill-treat anyone returned to their soil.

The ruling in the case of AS and DD leaves the MOU with Libya - signed in October 2005 - effectively in tatters.

Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, said: “This deals a major blow to the Government’s assurances that Memorandums of Understanding are the answer in seeking to deport terror suspects. The Government should focus on prevention and prosecution rather than just trying to deport these individuals once they are here.

“They should answer our calls to establish a dedicated UK border police to secure our borders and prevent foreign terror suspects from entering the country in the first place.

“They should also allow the use of phone tap evidence in terror trials and make good on their promise to allow terrorism suspects to be interviewed after charge so that we can secure more prosecutions.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We have already taken steps to protect the public.”

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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 04/09/2008 at 06:14 PM   
Filed Under: • CrimeRoPMATerroristsWar On Terror •  
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