Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Terrorist wins deportation appeal

Judges in Strasbourg have ruled that radical cleric Abu Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan (PA/Prison Service)

A terrorist accused of posing a grave threat to Britain's national security cannot be sent back home because it would be a "flagrant denial of justice", human rights judges have ruled.

Radical cleric Abu Qatada, described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", won his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the UK's efforts to deport him to Jordan with assurances that he would not be tortured.

But Home Secretary Theresa May vowed it was "not the end of the road", saying Qatada would be kept behind bars while she considered all legal options to send him back.

These include an appeal to the court's Grand Chamber within three months or seeking further assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would not be used in any trial.

The judges ruled that sending Qatada back to face terror charges without those assurances could lead to evidence obtained by torture being used against him, denying him his right to a fair trial in a "flagrant denial of justice".

But former home secretary David Blunkett warned that Qatada was "extraordinarily dangerous and we don't want him on our streets".

"This man has not only justified the September 11 attacks but advocated Jihad," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One programme.

"I do hope it would be possible to reach an agreement with the Jordanian government that they would bring forward alternative evidence to that obtained originally, allegedly, by torture."

Gareth Peirce, Qatada's solicitor, said it has "always been astonishing that this country has fought long and hard" to deport her client to Jordan.

"What message would it have sent to the rest of the world if the European Court of Human Rights had held that it was acceptable to send a civilian to be tried in a military court on evidence emanating from torture?" she said.

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