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'Osama’s close aide cannot be deported'

The radical Islamic preacher Abu Qatada or 'Osama bin Laden's right hand man in Europe' can now stay in Britain. Vijay Dutt reports.

world Updated: Apr 10, 2008 23:36 IST
Vijay Dutt

The radical Islamic preacher Abu Qatada, described in some quarters as 'Osama bin Laden's right hand man in Europe' can continue to stay in Britain.

The British Court of Appeal on Wednesday turned down the Home Office deportation order against Qatada. The ruling has forced the Home Office to abandon plans of deport 12 Libyans as well who are suspected of being involved in terrorist activity.

Abu Qatada was convicted of terrorism and has been in jail in Britain since 2001. But when the Home Office sought to deport him, the court expressed fears that he may be tortured in his home country Jordan to elicit evidence against him.

The Home Office is considering an appeal against the court's decision. "This way no suspected terrorist can ever be convicted or deported," a security analyst told Hindustan Times.

After the July 7 bombings, then prime minister Tony Blair had formulated steps to expel terror suspects by negotiating "memorandums of understanding" (MoUs) with West Asian and north African countries to guarantee that these suspects would not be tortured if sent back to the countries to which they originally belonged.

The pressure group Human Rights Watch said, "These cases show the Government should stop trying to deport people to countries whose justice systems are deeply tainted by torture and other abuses."