Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Met officers facing assault charges

Injuries sustained by Babar Ahmad when he was arrested in 2003
Injuries sustained by Babar Ahmad when he was arrested in 2003
Injuries sustained by Babar Ahmad when he was arrested in 2003

Four police officers have been told they will go on trial accused of attacking a terrorist suspect nearly seven years ago.

The officers will be charged with assaulting Babar Ahmad as they arrested him during a raid at his home in Tooting, south London.

The four, who were all members of the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Support Group (TSG) at the time, are accused of assault causing actual bodily harm. They are Pcs Nigel Cowley, 32, Roderick James-Bowen, 39, and Mark Jones, 43, and Detective Constable John Donohue, 36, who has since transferred to another unit.

Ahmad, 36, who remains in custody awaiting a decision on whether he can be extradited to the United States, welcomed the news. He said: "I am pleased that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided that a jury will hear the evidence in this case."

Ahmad suffered injuries including heavy bruising to his head, neck, wrists and feet when he was arrested in December 2003. The computer expert was held on suspicion of supporting and helping to recruit terrorists to fight in Afghanistan and Chechnya through email accounts and websites.

Prosecutors considered a file of evidence on how the injuries were caused in 2004 after an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

They found there was insufficient evidence for a conviction but reconsidered the case after Ahmad brought a civil case to the High Court last year. He was awarded £60,000 damages after the court heard evidence he was assaulted and racially abused by a group of officers.

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson admitted Ahmad was the victim of violence and the officers were accused of a "serious, gratuitous and prolonged" attack. He ordered an independent review by retired senior judge Sir Geoffrey Grigson into the handling of the case.

Ahmad has never been charged in Britain, but has been held in Long Lartin prison since 2004 after the United States issued an extradition warrant. In July the European Court of Human Rights halted the move as it considers whether it will breach Ahmad's rights by exposing him to life imprisonment without parole.

A Met spokesman said it had restricted the duties of the four officers. "The restrictions will be kept under review pending the conclusion of legal processes," he added.

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