Arab-Israeli imam owed damages over UK detention: court

30th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British judge ruled Friday that a controversial Arab-Israeli Islamist leader arrested in London on the orders of the government is entitled to damages for being unlawfully detained.

Sheikh Raed Saleh, the head of the radical northern wing of Israel's Islamic Movement, was not given "proper and sufficient reasons" for his arrest on June 28 on the orders of Home Secretary Theresa May, the high court judge ruled.

Justice Andrew Nicol said Saleh was not given a reason for his arrest until two days later, on June 30, and so was entitled to damages for wrongful detention during that period.

The amount has yet to be assessed.

The judge rejected Saleh's claim, however, that his detention as a whole was unlawful and the Islamist leader must still go to an immigration tribunal to lodge his appeal against his deportation.

At a recent hearing Saleh's lawyer, Raza Husain, argued that his client had been "confined without lawful authority" and his damages claim was "essentially one for false imprisonment".

The home secretary's lawyer, Neil Sheldon, argued she had acted reasonably and was legally entitled to order Saleh's detention pending deportation on the basis that his presence in Britain was not conducive to the public good.

Saleh was arrested in London on a ten-day trip to Britain, during which he intended to speak at several events, including a meeting at the House of Commons organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

The father-of-eight was held for entering Britain despite a government ban made on June 23.

An inquiry was subsequently launched into how he managed this.

He was finally granted bail on July 18 under strict conditions, including that he wear an electronic tag, observe a night-time curfew, report daily to immigration officials and refrain from any public speaking.

Saleh has had multiple run-ins with the law in Israel, including most recently being arrested at the border with Jordan after allegedly striking an interrogator.

In 2010, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman, and he has been detained on a number of other occasions, including in connection with an alleged arson incident.

He was also held after taking part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that Israeli naval commandos stormed on May 31, 2010 in a botched operation that left nine Turkish activists dead.

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance due to its perceived links with the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Islamist groups worldwide.

© 2011 AFP

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