|The Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph report on the appeal launched by two men convicted of terrorism offences after lawyers argued that material used against them in court was gained through torture.|
The men, Rangzieb Ahmed and Salahuddin Amin, claim MI5 acted in complicity with the Pakistani intelligence services, the ISI, to extract material which was subsequently used in their trials.
From the Daily Mail:
“Two Al Qaeda terrorists who plotted to kill thousands of innocent people in bomb attacks in Britain are attempting to have their convictions quashed on human rights grounds.
“Extremists Salahuddin Amin and Rangzieb Ahmed, both British citizens, claim their trials were unfair because UK spies knew some of the information used against them was obtained during their torture by Pakistani security services.
“Their argument has previously been rejected by the UK courts.
“Now the pair have been given a green light to put their case to the European Court of Human Rights in a last-ditch bid to be freed.
“If the case is not thrown out it will be the first time British terrorist convictions have been challenged in Strasbourg.
“It has provoked outrage because the European Court would normally have declared the case inadmissible – as it does 400,000 each year – because the claim hinges on a point of fact, rather than one of law or procedure.
“Lawyers have criticised the rising influence of unelected judges over British sovereignty.
“Lord Carlile of Berriew, the Government's former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said: 'To have the European Court of Human Rights intervening in judgments of fact – as opposed to judgments of law – really would be a new departure and, in my view, a completely unacceptable departure.'
“If the Government fails to satisfy judges that MI5 was not complicit in the torture, a full hearing will be ordered which could force British courts to quash the convictions. The legal bill will also be footed by the British taxpayer.
““Documents claim his right to a fair trial was breached because information against him was 'obtained through the use of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment'.
“Ahmed, 37, who was born in Rochdale, is the highest member of Al Qaeda to go on trial in Britain. Convicted of 'directing terrorism', he had links with the 7/7 and 21/7 bomb plotters.
“Former shadow home secretary David Davis has demanded an inquiry as there is 'hard evidence' of torture in the men's cases.”
The Sunday Telegraph adds that Davis said, “British intelligence officers would have had to have been wilfully blind and deaf not to know what was going on.”
Much like some of the media coverage of the case against Abu Qatada, where the concern was less about the likely violation of his right to a fair trial by the Jordanian authorities and more about the indignation espoused for his living costs being met by the British taxpayer, it would seem in the cases of Amin and Ahmed that the claims of evidence being extracted under duress and torture are of less significance than the idea that the taxpayer will foot the legal bill. And rather than question the methods employed by the security services, which if true violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and add to the number of charges leveled against the UK security forces on complicity in torture, ire is directed at the European Court instead.
As we've argued before, when British citizens have had to resort to the European Court of Human Rights to protect their right to privacy from the Government’s invasive stop and search policy; or had to resort to the Court of Appeals to challenge the use of control orders and secret evidence to keep them locked up indefinitely, and when the influence of groups, like the Community Security Trust, on the Home Office in seeking exclusion orders against individuals who pose no threat to our security but who may espouse views discomfiting to the pro-Israel lobby, there are many that will breathe sighs of relief in knowing that the courts remain a robust line of defence against politicians whose cavalier attitudes to our security and liberty have undermined both.
See also the editorial in the Sunday Telegraph this week.
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