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No assurances offered over Qatada

A Jordanian prince has refused to give assurances over whether radical cleric Abu Qatada would get a fair trial if he were deported to Jordan.

Qatada has been released from jail under strict bail conditions while the Government seeks assurances that evidence gained through torture would not be used in any trial against him if he were sent back.

But the 51-year-old cleric, once described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, could be freed from his bail terms in just three months if Home Secretary Theresa May fails to show significant progress is being made in talks with Jordan.

Prince El Hassan, the uncle of Jordan's King Abdullah, told BBC News: "I would like to say this is a country that has never taken the life of a political opponent of the regime.

"But if this man has committed crimes, which is presumably why he is being held in England, I don't know what kind of court one has to offer to the Europeans. Does it want a juvenile court?"

When the BBC's George Alagiah told the prince that the authorities wanted a court in which evidence brought about by torture was not admissible, the prince replied: "That is rich coming from a country that believed in rendition agreements." He added: "This is essentially a British European conversation and I don't think democracy means that we have to appeal to every single European parliamentarian."

Qatada was released from Long Lartin high-security jail in Evesham, Worcestershire, on Monday after applying for bail when human rights judges in Europe ruled he could not be deported without assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

As security minister James Brokenshire visited the Jordanian capital of Amman for talks this week, Qatada was let out under some of the toughest conditions imposed since the September 11 terror attacks.He is free to leave his London home for just two hours a day.

Later, a Home Office spokesman said: "Everyone is united in wanting this man deported.

"This Government will exhaust all avenues open to get Qatada on a plane. As we do so, we will continue to negotiate with the Jordanians to see what assurances we can be given about the evidence used against Qatada in their courts."


From Belfast Telegraph