British appeal judges to rule on Abu Qatada deportation

27th March 2013, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Court of Appeal will on Wednesday rule on the government's attempt to overturn a decision blocking the deportation of Jordanian terror suspect Abu Qatada.

Three judges will deliver their verdict from 1130 am (1130 GMT) in the latest stage of Britain's decade-long attempt to remove the cleric, who was convicted of terrorism in his home country in 1998.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled in November that he cannot be deported over fears that evidence obtained through torture could be used against him in any retrial.

Abu Qatada was subsequently released from custody on bail, to the government's horror, although he breached the conditions of his release earlier this month and was sent back to jail.

In a hearing on March 11, lawyers for Home Secretary Theresa May challenged SIAC's decision to block his deportation, saying it had taken an "erroneous" view of the situation in Jordan.

"There is no real risk of a flagrant denial of justice. The Jordanian courts will consider all the evidence," lawyer James Eadie told the court.

The Jordanian constitution "prohibits clearly and expressly the use of torture and the reliance on any statement obtained under duress, including torture", Eadie said.

Abu Qatada's lawyer Edward Fitzgerald argued however that there was "concrete and compelling evidence" that Abu Qatada's co-defendants were tortured into providing evidence.

The cleric, whose real name is Omar Mohammed Othman, has been dubbed Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe but has defied a decade of attempts by successive British governments to deport him.

© 2013 AFP

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