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UK not to oppose death penalty to ex-IS members

Hailing from west London, the two men are Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, captured in Syria in January. They are accused of being the last two members of an IS group called ‘The Beatles’.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2018 09:49 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
UK,ISIS,Islamic State
Hailing from west London, the two men are Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, captured in Syria in January. They are accused of being the last two members of an IS group called ‘The Beatles.(AP FIle Photo)

Britain’s home secretary Sajid Javid was at the centre of a row on Monday after it emerged that he informed the US attorney general Jeff Sessionsthat London would not block death penalty to two Islamic State members, who were stripped of British citizenship.

Javid was accused by the opposition Labour of changing long-held British policy to oppose death penalty in any circumstances, without any discussion or debate in parliament.

Hailing from west London, the two men are Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, captured in Syria in January. They are accused of being the last two members of an IS group called ‘The Beatles’.

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour's shadow attorney general, alleged that Javid had “secretly and unilaterally abandoned Britain's opposition to the death penalty. By doing so he is not just playing with the lives of these particular terrorists but those of other Britons – including potentially innocent ones – all over the world.”

A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa may said the decision to let the two men face trial in the US without the usual assurance that the death penalty would not be applied was taken by Javid and Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary.

The prime minister was aware of the decision, but the spokesperson refused to say that May “supported” the decision, insisting that the government agreed that the men need to face justice.

In the letter to Sessions on June 22, Javid reportedly wrote that the UK would not seek “assurances” over the death penalty in this case, but said it did not mark a change in UK policy: “I am of the view that there are strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case, so no such assurances will be sought.”

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 09:48 IST