Duncan Lewis

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Abu Qatada released and imposed strict bail conditions

Date: (14 November 2012)    |    

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Abu Qatada the radical Islamist cleric has been released from the Long Lartin high security prison in Worcestershire after an appeals court ruled that he cannot be deported to Jordan to face trial on torture based evidence.
He would be sent back to his home in the North West London where he would face a curfew from 4pm to 8am enforced by an electronic tag and strict restrictions on who he could meet.
The Home Office seems to be in for a long haul as Theresa May faces a lengthy legal battle in persuading the court of appeal to overturn the ruling on Monday by the special immigrations appeals commission (Siac)
Ms May is also believed to be making preparations to put fresh pressure on the Jordanian authorities to assure the British courts that the cleric would receive a fair trial if sent back.
The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said the government remained "absolutely determined" to secure Abu Qatada's deportation.
Abu Qatada was first detained in Britain as a terror suspect in 2002 and has been fighting his deportation for seven years.
Ms May had travelled to Jordan earlier in the year and secured assurances that he would not face a trial for bomb plot offences dating back to 1998 on evidence obtained by torture. But Siac ruled on Monday that despite the assurances there remained a real risk that torture-based evidence would be used against him.
David Anderson, QC, the official reviewer of the terror laws, said it was a very frustrating episode for all involved but it was not the end of the road. He told the BBC that the key to the case really lay with the Jordanians.
The judge had said that if the Jordanian criminal code could remove an ambiguity by way of an amendment which should be sufficient to make deportation possible, because it would then be possible to say without fear of contradiction that Abu Qatada, if placed on trial back in Jordan, would not be tried on the basis of evidence obtained by torture.
Jordan's acting information minister, Nayef al-Fayez, said his government shared UK authorities' disappointment at the Siac ruling and said that the kingdom's constitution and constitutional court guaranteed a fair trial.
Abu Qatada's immigration solicitor, has welcomed the Siac ruling, saying it was important to reaffirm Britain’s position that it was against the use of torture and a case that was based upon evidence from witnesses who have been tortured was rejected, by the courts in the UK and by the European court of human rights, the solicitor said.
The home secretary has 21 days from the date of the judgment to lodge an appeal on a point of law to the higher court.
If the court of appeal turns down the home secretary, Abu Qatada's immigration lawyers would likely apply for his stringent bail conditions to be lifted. The home secretary will then be faced with the option of whether or not to impose terrorism prevention and investigation measures order (Tpim) which could last for two years.

 

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