Jailed Israel jet bomb plotter wins British court challenge

1st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British court ruled Friday in favour of a Jordanian man jailed for 45 years in 1986 over a plot to bomb an Israeli airliner who is challenging government attempts to block his early release.

Two judges at the High Court in London decided that Nezar Hindawi, who is serving what is thought to be the longest jail term ever imposed by an English court, had been subjected to flawed decision-making.

Hindawi, now 56, was jailed in 1986 for attempting to blow up an El-Al plane flying from London's Heathrow airport to Tel Aviv.

He had hidden Semtex explosive in the luggage of his pregnant fiancee without her knowledge but the explosives were discovered and the plot foiled, avoiding the potential loss of 375 lives.

He became eligible for parole in 2001 after serving one third of his sentence but successive governments have rejected his applications for early release.

At Friday's hearing, judges John Thomas and Nicola Davies said the latest decision to block Hindawi's release, taken by Justice Minister Ken Clarke, must be quashed.

Judge Thomas said that Clarke had based his decision on documents that did not put a balanced case about Hindawi and was therefore unable to properly take a decision.

"That is contrary to principles of justice that our law has always applied in cases however heinous a crime might be," said the judge.

"A consequence of the unfair procedure was that the decision made by the Secretary of State (justice minister) was flawed... His decision must therefore be quashed."

The court's decision does not mean that Hindawi will be immediately released.

A decision will be taken at a later hearing as to whether England's highest court, the Supreme Court, should make a final ruling or whether Clarke should be ordered to reconsider his decision.

© 2011 AFP

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