Abu Qatada’s surprise acquittal is blow to Theresa May

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:郑搛焘 来源:合乐888手机网页版 点击:108 次

The radical Islamist preacher will not be able to return to Britain despite his surprise acquittal by the Jordanian state security court on terrorism conspiracy charges.

The Home Office moved quickly on Wednesday to underline what Downing Street had made clear back in June when Abu Qatada was .

“He can’t come back, and he won’t come back. He is a Jordanian and he does not have a UK passport. He is also the subject of an indefinite deportation order as well. He would not be granted permission to enter the UK, end of story,” it said.

Abu Qatada, 53, an international terror suspect who was once described by a Spanish judge as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, is subject to a UN travel ban as well as the indefinite British deportation order, and as a Jordanian citizen is now barred from returning to Britain.

Nevertheless his acquittal is a blow for the UK home secretary, . She won wide praise last year when she finally secured his return to Jordan to stand trial after a legal battle that had lasted nearly a decade in Britain. It was an achievement that successive home secretaries had failed to secure.

The ruling by the Jordanian state security court comes as something of a surprise as only a week ago the Times reported that he was expected to be sentenced to between two and a half and six years for his role in a thwarted bomb attack on Amman in 2000 and which was known as the millennium bomb plot.

However, May’s breakthrough in the case only came when she secured an undertaking from the Jordanian authorities that no evidence that had been obtained through torture could be used in the trial.

Abu Qatada’s lawyers always maintained that he had been convicted in absentia by the Jordanians using torture-tainted evidence from his co-conspirators.

The Islamist preacher calculated that there was no other evidence left available to convict him when he voluntarily returned to Jordan in July 2013 on the basis of the “fair trial” treaty, saying that for the first time in 12 years he felt safe returning to Amman.

This calculation was one which a British judge sitting in the special immigration appeals commission reinforced when he referred to the case against Abu Qatada as being “extremely thin” once the torture-tainted evidence was discounted.

It now appears that the panel of civilian judges in the Jordanian state security court has agreed. In his ruling on Wednesday the judge said the evidence was “weak” but did not specify whether it had been obtained under torture.

Abu Qatada was first detained in Britain in 2002 in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the failure to deport him was a major headache for successive home secretaries.

The European court of human rights ruled that he could not be sent back to Jordan if he was to face trial based on torture-tainted evidence – a ruling that fuelled much Conservative and tabloid hostility to the ECHR.

It may be argued that Abu Qatada has played a 10-year waiting game that has finally paid off. During his retrial, his defence team attacked the credibility of alleged recorded conversations between him and two fellow Salafists who were his co-defendants – the only available non-torture-tainted evidence. Neither of his co-conspirators was able to give fresh evidence as one is dead and the other was freed in a general pardon in 2011 and is believed to be fighting in Syria.

Nevertheless Abu Qatada spent much of his time in Britain in maximum security prisons and briefly under virtual house arrest on a control order. So it could hardly be argued that his successful waiting game did not come without a price.