UK DAILY MAIL In a blow to British government, radical Muslim, Abu Qatada was told by the European Court of Human Rights he would not have to go back to Jordan where he has been convicted of terror charges in his absence and may even walk free some time in the spring.
The UK now has three months in which to appeal against the ruling, but if the government does not do this, Qatada – once described as ‘a truly dangerous individual’ – could walk free. This is because he is not currently facing trial in Britain and has not been convicted in accordance with UK law..
European judges ruled that he could not be deported because ‘there remains a real risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him’ and he would not receive a fair trial.
Qatada is an iconic figure for many supporters of Jihad and today’s ECHR decision flies in the face of UK law Lords who ruled almost three years ago that he could be sent back to Jordan. It is the first time the Strasbourg-based court has found that an expulsion would be in violation of the right to a fair trial.
THE CASE AGAINST ABU QATADA
- Osama bin Laden’s ambassador in Europe
- Stopped by British police in 2001 with £170,000 in cash, including £805 in an envelope marked ‘For the mujahedin in Chechnya’
- Links to Egyptian Islamic Jihad through bin Laden’s number two, Ayman Al-Zawahiri
- Spiritual leader to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda’s now dead leader in Iraq, responsible for sickening acts including the beheading of Ken Bigley
- Provided advice to Rachid Ramda, extradited to France for involvement in the 1995 Paris Metro bombing
- Videos of his sermons found in the Hamburg flat of Mohammed Atta, one of the September 11 hijackers
- Close links to Khaled Al Fawwaz, bin Laden’s representative in the UK until arrested for the East African bombings in 1998
- Ties to Abu Doha, whose Frankfurt terror cell was caught in possession of chemicals, firearms and explosives
- Associate of Abu Dahdah, leader of 11 extremists arrested in Spain in November 2001
- Labelled a ‘ truly dangerous individual’ by a special immigration court
- Reportedly made a speech in 1999 advocating the killing of Jews
- Convicted in absence by Jordan of terrorist activities, and the Millennium bomb plot
- Suspected of plotting to flee to Lebanon while on immigration bail
Home Secretary Theresa May said she was ‘disappointed’ but it was ‘not the end of the road’ and Qatada would remain in prison while ‘all the legal options’ are considered.
This is the latest phase in a 10-year battle to have Qatada kicked out of the country that has cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds in legal aid. He is currently being held at Belmarsh prison at a cost to Britain of £70,000-a-year while his family is believed to be living in an £800,000 house, raking in benefits worth around £50,000 a year.
Qatada has been in and out of prison since 2002 when he was arrested under anti-terrorism laws, a year after being stopped by British police with an envelope ‘for the mujahedin in Chechnya’ containing £805.
The Government can now make a final attempt to appeal against the judgment before it becomes binding in three months’ time. ‘In the meantime, Qatada will remain in detention in the UK. It is important to note that this ruling does not prevent us seeking to deport other foreign nationals.’
In a landmark judgment in February 2009, five Law Lords unanimously backed the Government’s policy of removing terror suspects from Britain on the basis of assurances from foreign governments. Jacqui Smith, the then-home secretary, said the ruling vindicated the Government’s efforts to remove dangerous individuals.
But Qatada’s lawyers appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, where the latest ruling was made. Tory MP for Esher and Walton Dominic Raab said: ‘Yet again the Strasbourg Court has imposed a new category of restrictions on our ability to deport serious criminals and suspected terrorists.
‘Placing the burden on Britain to ensure foreign criminals and terrorist suspects are tried according to UK standards in their home countries will severely impede our capacity to deport those who pose a risk in this country. ‘This is a classic example of mission creep, with judicial legislation from Strasbourg running roughshod over decisions that should be determined by UK courts.’
In 2008, the Court of Appeal ruled in Qatada’s favour, saying there were reasonable grounds for believing he would be denied a fair trial in Jordan because evidence against him could have been extracted through torture. But the Law Lords overturned that ruling in 2009, saying there was no proof that evidence against Qatada had been obtained through torture.
In October 2009, human rights groups Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Justice raised concerns with the Strasbourg-based court over the practice of relying on diplomatic assurances to justify the transfer of individuals to countries where they would face a real risk of being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. (Yeah, I mean who could sleep at night if we knew an Islamic terrorist who wanted to kill us was tortured)