Category Archives: Extradition
The Home Secretary has pinned her hopes for ousting Abu Qatada from Britain on a fresh deal with the Jordanians – but warned it could still take many months to deport the reviled hate preacher.
Theresa May said a new treaty between the UK and Jordan guarantees that torture evidence will not be used against the terror suspect if he is returned to the Middle Eastern country.
But sounding a note of caution, Mrs May said the agreement does not mean Qatada will be “on a plane to Jordan within days” as he will still be able to appeal against any fresh decisions to deport him.
The Labour Party said the move took the legal process back to “square one”, while a leading human rights barrister accused the Home Secretary of “wasting taxpayers’ money”.
The so-called “mutual legal assistance agreement” includes fair trial guarantees, the Home Secretary said, which would apply to anyone being deported from either the UK or Jordan.
“I believe these guarantees will provide the courts with the assurance that Qatada will not face evidence that might have been obtained by torture in a retrial in Jordan, ” she told the House of Commons.
Before the deal can come into force, and become a formal treaty, it must be ratified by both countries.
Mrs May went on: “I believe that the treaty we have agreed with Jordan – once ratified by both parliaments – will finally make possible the deportation of Abu Qatada.
“But as I have warned the House before, even when the treaty is fully ratified, it will not mean that Qatada will be on a plane to Jordan within days. We will be able to issue a new deportation decision, but Qatada will still have legal appeals available to him, and it will therefore be up to the courts to make the final decision. That legal process may well still take many months, but in the meantime I believe Qatada should remain behind bars.”
On Tuesday, the Government suffered another blow in its long-running battle to boot Qatada out of the country when the Court of Appeal refused it permission to take the fight to the Supreme Court. The Home Secretary said the Government would now request permission to appeal directly from the Supreme Court.
Downing Street is considering a temporary withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights in order to allow hate preacher Abu Qatada to be expelled from the United Kingdom, it emerged today.
Asked whether this course of action was on the table, Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters: “We are going to explore every option.”
Home Secretary Theresa May will update MPs on the Government’s plans in a statement in the House of Commons later today, following the latest setback in the long-running battle to deport the cleric, once seen as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe.
The Home Office is planning to apply directly to the Supreme Court for permission to challenge a Court of Appeal ruling that Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan over fears that evidence obtained through torture would be used against him.
The Appeal Court yesterday refused permission for Mrs May to challenge its March ruling at the Supreme Court, forcing the Home Secretary to take her case direct to the highest court in the land.
Mr Cameron immediately summoned Mrs May, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Attorney General Dominic Grieve to what was described as a “council of war” to discuss all available options for removing Qatada.
A Number 10 source said following the meeting that the appeal process had to be gone through but the Prime Minister wanted to explore all ways to “get him out of the country” if it failed.
Asked at a daily Westminster media briefing today whether this included the possibility of a temporary withdrawal from the ECHR, Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: “I am not going to get into specifics on the details of what the Government is considering, but we are going to explore every option.”
The Home Office said it was “disappointed” with the Court of Appeal’s decision, but added: “The Government remains committed to deporting this dangerous man and we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation.”
The Supreme Court process involves consideration by three justices of a permission to appeal application. They decide whether the application raises a point of law of general public importance.
At the Court of Appeal last month, Mrs May’s lawyers challenged a ruling made in November by immigration judges on the grounds that Qatada was a “truly dangerous” individual who had escaped deportation through “errors of law”.
But three appeal judges said the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) was entitled to conclude that disputed statements will be used against Qatada.
Qatada, who featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the 9/11 bombers, has thwarted every attempt by the Government to put him on a plane.
A resident in the UK since September 1993, he was returned to jail last month after he was arrested for alleged bail breaches.
Police searched Qatada’s family home in London before he was held and have since said that he is being investigated over extremist material.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said after the decision was announced: “A year ago, Theresa May promised Abu Qatada would soon be on a plane. Now it is clear her legal strategy has completely failed. The Home Secretary must tell us urgently what she is going to do now to get Abu Qatada deported or tried, and keep him off our streets.”
The Government vowed today to carry on the legal battle to deport radical preacher Abu Qatada, nicknamed ’Abracadabra’ by prisoners, after the latest removal bid was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
Three judges in Lod,on dismissed a challenge by Home Secretary Theresa May over a decision allowing the radical preacher to stay in the UK.
A Home Office statement following their ruling said the department plans to seek leave to appeal.
A spokesman said: “This is not the end of the road, and the Government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada.
“We will consider this judgment carefully and plan to seek leave to appeal.
“In the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation.”
Mrs May’s legal team submitted at a recent one-day hearing that Qatada was a “truly dangerous” individual who escaped deportation through “errors of law”.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) decided in November that Qatada could not be removed to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, without “a real risk” of evidence obtained through torture being used against him at a retrial.
Siac judges said there was a “real risk” that statements from Qatada’s former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, who were allegedly tortured, could be used against him at a retrial, breaching his human rights.
The Home Secretary appealed and disputed the claims.
Unanimously dismissing Mrs May’s appeal and upholding Siac’s decision, the appeal judges ruled: “Siac was entitled to conclude that there is a real risk that the impugned statements will be admitted in evidence at a retrial and that, in consequence, there is a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice.”
Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Elias, said the court accepted that Qatada “is regarded as a very dangerous person”, but that was not “a relevant consideration” under human rights laws.
At the hearing of the appeal, Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for Qatada – who is also known as Omar Othman – defended the Siac ruling, saying there was “concrete and compelling evidence” that Qatada’s co-defendants were tortured.
Mr Fitzgerald argued that there was “a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice” if Qatada, 52, was sent back to Jordan.
But James Eadie QC, appearing for Mrs May, said the Siac decision should be quashed.
He had argued that the Siac judges, chaired by Mr Justice Mitting, had taken an “erroneous” view of the position in Jordan and the legal tests that had to be applied.
Mr Eadie said the Jordanian constitution “prohibits clearly and expressly the use of torture and the reliance on any statement obtained under duress, including torture”.
He said there was no reason to believe that Jordanian judges would not take that into account.
It was a matter for Jordan, and Siac erred in blocking deportation, argued Mr Eadie.
Qatada, who was living on bail at a London address, is back in custody after he was arrested for alleged breaches.
A hearing over whether he should be granted bail was due to be held last Thursday but was delayed.
Police searched the hate preacher’s house before he was held.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, of the Metropolitan Police, revealed last week that the hate preacher is being investigated over extremist material.
Amanda Knox has spoken of her anguish after Italy’s highest criminal court overturned her acquittal for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.
The American returned to her home in Seattle after she was dramatically cleared following four years in jail in 2011, but now faces the prospect of returning to the country for a new trial.
She said prosecutors should be made to answer for apparent “discrepancies” in their case and called for an “objective investigation” into questions surrounding her alleged involvement in the killing.
The body of Leeds University student Miss Kercher, 21, was found in November 2007 in her bedroom at the house she shared with Miss Knox in the Italian university town of Perugia. Her throat had been slashed.
Prosecutors claimed Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone awry.
Miss Knox, now 25, and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 29, denied wrongdoing. They were convicted following a high-profile trial but were released on appeal and Miss Knox was immediately flown back to America.
She said: “It was painful to receive the news that the Italian Supreme Court decided to send my case back for revision when the prosecution’s theory of my involvement in Meredith’s murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair. I believe that any questions as to my innocence must be examined by an objective investigation and a capable prosecution. The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele’s sake, my sake, and most especially for the sake of Meredith’s family. Our hearts go out to them. No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity.”
Miss Kercher’s older sister Stephanie Kercher, speaking at her Surrey home, told the Press Association: “There are a lot of unanswered questions still. We are very hopeful that it going back to court will help find those answers and find out the truth of what happened that night. Whilst we are not happy about going back to court, and it will not bring her back, we have to make sure we have done all we can for her. We still have a long journey ahead and we are very grateful for the support of the public and in Italy – we just want justice for Mez.”
Italian law cannot compel Knox to return to the country for a fresh trial. She could be found in contempt of court but that carries no additional penalties. It is unclear what would happen if she was convicted following a new appeal.
But the latest developments mean Miss Knox could face the threat of an extradition request from the Italian government. The US and Italy brought an extradition treaty into force in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president. The treaty obligates each country to extradite anyone charged with or convicted of an extraditable offence – or any offences punishable under the laws of both countries by a jail sentence of more than one year. Italy must provide the US with specific documents to demonstrate they have “probable cause to believe” that Miss Kercher was murdered and Miss Knox committed the offence.
A murder suspect who escaped from a prison van more than a year ago was flown back to the UK today after being arrested in Northern Cyprus.
John Anslow, 32, was being transported to Stafford Crown Court when he escaped from the van near HMP Hewell Grange, in Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, on January 23 last year.
A Staffordshire Police spokeswoman said Anslow was arrested for immigration offences in the Alancak area of Northern Cyprus on Wednesday before being deported by the Turkish Cypriot authorities.
He was arrested upon arrival at Heathrow Airport earlier today before being transferred to a high-security prison.
Anslow is due to appear via video link at Stafford Crown Court on Monday for failing to appear at court.
Anslow, from Tipton, West Midlands, was one of five men charged with the murder of businessman Richard Deakin in Chasetown, Staffordshire, in July 2010.
Police said Mr Deakin’s family have been updated about the latest development.
Nine men have been arrested and charged by West Mercia Police in connection with Anslow’s escape in the past three weeks, the spokeswoman added.
Eddie Maher – known as “Fast Eddie” – blew a kiss to his family before being jailed for five years for the 1993 theft of a security van containing £1.2 million.
As the 57-year-old fugitive was jailed at Southwark Crown Court today, prosecutors revealed they were still looking to trace three possible accomplices.
They include Maher’s brother, Michael Maher, and two acquaintances Michael Sulsh and Terrence Bender.
Maher spent almost 20 years on the run in the US following the theft of the Securicor van he was driving from outside a bank in Felixstowe, Suffolk.
Outlining the case, prosecutor Richard Southern QC said: “We believe the defendant received assistance from people in this country in the months after the offence.”
Maher’s life unravelled when his son, Lee King’s, disgruntled ex-wife Jessica King contacted US authorities to tell them he was a wanted man, the court heard.
He was arrested for immigration and firearms offences before being deported to the UK.
Maher, originally from South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, had been due to stand trial for theft after being deported from the UK but today changed his plea to guilty.
His partner, Deborah Brett, and younger son, Mark, sat in court as he was jailed. Mark mouthed the words “I love you” as his father was led from the dock.
Lee King sat on a separate row. His family did not acknowledge him throughout the court appearance.
None of the family spoke as they left court.
Jailing him, Mr Justice Nicol said: “You made a very substantial gain even if, as you say, the money has now gone.
“The temptation to commit the offence must have been too great.
“You told the authorities after your arrest that you only received £40,000. Your wife has said it was about £200,000.”
Maher – who used the false identities of Stephen King and Michael Maher while on the run – had intended to fight the allegation on the grounds that he had been forced to commit the crime after wracking up “significant debts”.
But Suffolk Police and the Crown Prosecution Service built up evidence proving that the former soldier and firefighter had profited to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
After his conviction, detectives revealed details of series of property investments which they say he funded from the proceeds of the crime.
This included a house in Colorado bought with 120,000 US dollars in cash just six months after the theft.
Later Maher built a ranch on 80 acres of land in Colorado before moving around various US states.
At the time of his arrest on February 9 last year, he was working as a cable engineer in Missouri.
David Nathan QC, mitigating, said: “An extraordinary aspect of this case is Mr Maher’s daughter-in-law had originally been the partner of his son Lee’s best friend.
“Lee won a lot of money on the lottery and she left her partner to marry Lee.
“When the money ran out, she did a little research on Google on the name Maher and found out he was wanted for the theft back in 1993.
“She heard that there was a reward and she went to the federal authorities.”
He added that shortly before his arrest Maher had visited a local police station to bail Lee King out after he was arrested for a motoring offence.
“He was told by one of the local officers that there was a rumour he was wanted for an offence in the UK,” Mr Nathan added.
“He took the children and his partner to a hotel, no doubt with the intention of fleeing but thought better of it.
“He took his younger son to school and then was arrested the following day.”
Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector David Giles, from Suffolk Police, said: “Over the years Edward Maher has almost been portrayed as a Robin Hood character, someone who stole from a bank, where no one was injured.
“Maher took on a position of significant trust working for a security company, a position he abused, resulting in the theft over £1 million.”
In 1977 Maher received a 12 month suspended prison sentence for robbing a milkman of £35.
Maher’s partner Deborah Brett, 47, his sister, Margaret Francis, 64, and Paul Muggleton, 54, from Woodford Green, east London, are all on bail after being arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and conspiracy to commit theft.
A third man has been jailed for life for his part in the killing of honeymooner Anni Dewani in South Africa.
A judge branded Xolile Mngeni, who shot Mrs Dewani, “a merciless and evil person” who deserved the maximum punishment for his crime which prosecutors say was organised by her British husband Shrien – above.
Judge Robert Henney did not hold back his contempt while sentencing Mngeni for the killing of 28-year-old Mrs Dewani and said that the shooter showed no remorse.
“He had no regard to her right to freedom, dignity, and totally disregarded and showed no respect to her right to life by brutally killing her with utter disdain,” Judge Henney said.
Mngeni, who had surgery to remove a brain tumour while facing trial in Cape Town, at times sat with his face resting on the bannister of the dock on top of his crossed arms. Mrs Dewani’s family members, wearing black clothes and with pictures of the young woman pinned above their left breasts, stared at him.
In August Mngeni’s accomplice Mziwamadoda Qwabe pleaded guilty to charges over the killing, receiving a 25-year prisonsentence. Zola Tongo, the taxi driver that police say Shrien Dewani asked to plot the killing, earlier received an 18-yearprison sentence. Both Tongo and Qwabe have said Mr Dewani wanted it to look like he was not involved his wife’s death and they planned to have the attack look like a carjacking in Cape Town’s impoverished Gugulethu township.
The men were paid about £1,500 for the killing.
In a statement provided as part of his plea deal, Qwabe said that after he and Mngeni staged a fake carjacking, he drove the car as Mngeni kept a 7.62 mm pistol pointed at Mrs Dewani in the backseat and then pulled the trigger, the fatal shot going through her neck. Panicked, Qwabe said he stopped the car and got out, helping Mngeni find the spent bullet casing. He threw the casing into a sewer as they ran away into the night.
Officials at first thought the crime was robbery. The rate of violent crime is high in South Africa but attacks on foreign tourists are rare.
Mr Dewani has denied he hired anyone to kill his wife and was allowed to leave South Africa for the United Kingdom, where he was later arrested.
His lawyer told the court in July that he needed at least a year to recover from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder before being potentially sent back to South Africa.
The Home Secretary has launched a legal challenge against the decision to allow radical preacher Abu Qatada to stay in the UK.
Last month the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled that Qatada should not be deported to Jordan where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999. A panel of three judges found that there was a risk that evidence obtained using torture would be used against the controversial cleric in a retrial.
Now Theresa May has submitted grounds for appeal to the Court of Appeal in a bid to overturn SIAC’s decision. The only way the ruling can be challenged is if it is found that there were legal problems with the commission’s ruling.
The SIAC judges ruled on November 12 that evidence from Qatada’s former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, said to have been obtained by torture, could be used against him in a retrial.
“The Secretary of State has not satisfied us that, on a retrial, there is no real risk that the impugned statements of Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher would be admitted probatively against the appellant,” they said.
Mrs May immediately pledged to appeal and told the Commons that day that Jordan had given assurances about its legal processes. She said: “Qatada is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist, who is accused of serious crime in his home country of Jordan.
“The British Government has obtained from the Jordanian government assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself, but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed throughout his trial. We will therefore seek leave to appeal.”
Qatada was immediately granted bail following the ruling and released from HMP Long Lartin, returning to his family home in north London. He is said to have wide and high-level support among extremists, and featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.
The extremist has battled deportation for over a decade and has so far thwarted every attempt by the Government to deport him.
Court of Appeal officials said appeal papers had been lodged by lawyers representing the Home Office. They said no date had been fixed for any appeal court hearing.
A British kickboxer wanted over the murder of a US Marine in Thailand has been extradited, officials said today.
Lee Aldhouse, 29, was named by the Thai authorities as the prime suspect in the fatal stabbing of Dashawn Longfellow on the island of Phuket on August 14, 2010.
He was originally detained by officers after flying back to London’s Heathrow Airport four days later on a warrant for his recall to prison in Britain.
Aldhouse, who is trained in Thai kickboxing, is alleged to have attacked Mr Longfellow after a fight in a bar on Phuket.
He was extradited last night, officials confirmed.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman tonight said: “We can confirm that Lee Aldhouse, a British national, was extradited to Thailand from London Heathrow on an extradition warrant.
“He is wanted in connection with the suspected murder of Dashawn Longfellow, 23, in 2010 on the Thai island of Phuket.”
A hitman allegedly hired by British businessman Shrien Dewani (above) to kill his bride on their South African honeymoon has been convicted of murder.
Prosecutors believe Xolile Mngeni pulled the trigger after he was recruited to carry out the assassination in an attack designed to resemble a car hijacking.
Mngeni, 25, was found guilty of premeditated murder today after a judge at the Western Cape High Court heard an “avalanche of evidence” against him.
Dewani, 32, now remains the only suspect yet to face trial in South Africa in connection with the murder of his Swedish wife Anni.
He continues to deny orchestrating the killing in Cape Town’s impoverished Gugulethu township on November 13 2010.
The businessman, who has been held at Fromeside Clinic, a secure mental health hospital in Bristol, is fighting extradition to South Africa.
Mngeni – convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, alongside the murder charge – stood expressionless as the judgment was delivered in front of his family, who watched, wide-eyed, from the public gallery.
“The State has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt,” Judge Robert Henney told the court.
“The case against the accused is overwhelming and the accused could barely avoid the avalanche of evidence from crashing down on him.”
Mngeni was acquitted of Mrs Dewani’s kidnapping – deemed to have been part of a single chain of events leading to her murder.
The 28-year-old was shot as the newly-weds travelled by taxi through the outskirts of Cape Town.
Her husband and the driver Zola Tongo were ejected from the car before Mrs Dewani was driven away and killed. She was found dead in the back of the abandoned vehicle with a bullet wound to her neck.
Tongo was jailed for 18 years after he admitted his part in the crime. This came after he claimed in a plea agreement that Dewani ordered the carjacking and paid for a hit on his wife.
Another accomplice, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, also pleaded guilty to charges over the murder and was handed a 25-year prison sentence.
Both Tongo and Qwabe claimed Dewani wanted it to appear as if he had nothing to do with his wife’s murder.
As part of his plea deal, Qwabe provided a statement detailing how he and Mngeni staged the carjacking.
He told how he had driven the car while Mngeni aimed a 7.62mm pistol at Mrs Dewani in the back seat before he pulled the trigger.
Qwabe said he stopped the car in panic before he got out to help Mngeni find the spent bullet casing. He threw this into a sewer before they fled the scene.
Mngeni was further linked to the murder when his left palm print was found on the taxi. Lawyers initially denied the print belonged to the defendant but later accepted otherwise.
In a 60-page judgment, Judge Henney dismissed claims that Mngeni had been set up for the killing.
He described Qwabe’s evidence as clear, precise, detailed and chronological, and said Qwabe came across as intelligent and did not contradict himself in the witness box.
He concluded: “Much of Qwabe’s evidence was corroborated by other witnesses and other evidence.”
The court found Mngeni failed to adequately explain why he was seen in a vehicle with Dewani’s convicted killers the day before the murder.
Nor could he explain why he was seen with two stolen phones – one belonging to Tongo and the other to the British tourist.
Judge Henney said he offered only bare denials and a late revelation of alibi witnesses.
“The version of the accused was riddled with improbabilities, inconsistencies and untruths,” he said.
Lawyers for Mngeni said the defendant had surgery to remove a brain tumour last June and suffered seizures, black outs and memory problems. He needed a walking frame to get into court.
In March the High Court in London temporarily halted Dewani’s extradition proceedings because of his poor mental health.
The businessman, who has vowed to clear his name, has been receiving treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).