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'Taliban' home can't be seized

The family home of a convicted British Taliban fighter cannot be seized to pay for the cost of his trial, a judge ruled today.

Authorities had wanted to take the former home of Munir Farooqi, who was given four life sentences in September 2011 for running a "recruitment centre" for home-grown extremists to go to Afghanistan to kill British troops.

But Mr Justice Henriques today ruled that the Legal Aid Agency could not enforce a Recovery of Defence Costs Order (RDCO) against 6 Victoria Terrace, Manchester, and instead must claim the money as a civil debt.

Sitting at Manchester Crown Court the High Court judge ordered Farooqi to pay £500,000 in costs by November 23, documents show.

GMP Detective Superintendent Julian Richardson said: " All of the offences took place at 6 Victoria Terrace, Longsight, Manchester, which is the Farooqi family home.

"The ruling by Sir Richard Henriques demonstrates a proportionate response to the evidence placed before the court.

"The Crown agreed that the ruling give due consideration to those 'interested parties' so that no innocent party was unduly punished or made homeless as a result of this hearing.

"The £500k costs order should draw to a conclusion this protracted and complex investigation into the most serious offences that threatened the lives of coalition Forces overseas.

"Munir Farooqi threatened to kill 40-50 military personnel when planning his attacks. The ruling provides some redress to the state for the significant cost to the public purse and hopefully acts as a deterrent to those considering terrorist acts."

Farooqi, who is in his fifties, ran an Islamic book stall on Longsight market in Manchester to spread the word of Islam.

The Pakistani-born British citizen was at the centre of a plot to radicalise and persuade vulnerable young men to "fight, kill and die" in a jihad in Afghanistan.

The father-of-three was captured in a police sting when two undercover anti-terrorism police officers infiltrated his group wearing secret bugging devices.

Farooqi was told he must serve a minimum of nine years before he can be considered for parole after being convicted of preparing for acts of terrorism, three counts of soliciting to murder and one count of dissemination of terrorist publications, following a four month trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Mr Justice Henriques today ordered Farooqi pay £400,000 to the Legal Aid Agency and £100.000 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

A Legal Aid Agency spokesman said: "We welcome the order made in court today that means a man convicted of terrorism offences must repay legal aid costs of £400,000.

"The LAA will always seek to recover money in these circumstances. Legal aid is taxpayers' money and we have a duty to make sure it is not being spent on criminals we believe can afford to pay towards their legal costs."

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