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Jurors attack deportation of cleared 'ricin plot' suspect

Robert Verkaik / London Independent | August 25 2006

Three of the jurors who helped clear four men of taking part in an alleged ricin terror plot have spoken of their dismay at a judge's ruling that one of the suspects should be returned to Algeria.

Mr Justice Ouseley, rejecting an appeal brought against the Home Office, said that a man known as "Y" represented a danger to national security because of his links to terror groups. The judgment is expected to give the green light to the Government, which wants to deport 15 more Algerian men despite evidence presented by human rights groups that they face torture on their return.

The jurors, who heard the case against Y at the Old Bailey last year, said they believed the suspect was the victim of an unjust sequence of events orchestrated by the Government. Their statement, given to Amnesty International, said: "As three members of the public, we have had our eyes opened to such an unfair sequence of events orchestrated by the authorities that we feel compelled to speak out. This is contrary to anything we thought could be possible in a democratic society."

Y was acquitted of involvement in the so-called "ricin plot" to distribute the deadly toxin on car door handles in Holloway Road, north London. Lawyers for Y say he is subject to a death sentence passed in Algeria in his absence for terrorism-related offences. Under human rights law, suspects cannot be deported to countries where they may face torture or ill-treatment. The Government has been seeking diplomatic assurances from the Algerian government that anyone returned there will not be harmed.
In its judgment, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) said: "We give some weight to the assurances received in December 2005 about how he would be treated were he returned to face a retrial ... and to the verbal assurances which have been received. Y'spresence as an extremist supporter shows that he is a risk to the UK's national security and should be deported."

An Amnesty International spokeswoman, Nicola Duckworth, said: "Given the extensive evidence before Siac that Y would face a real risk of torture if deported to Algeria, today's decision can only be described as an affront to justice, and wrong."

Y's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, said: "In one fell swoop the UK has undermined its binding obligations to oppose torture on the basis of a diplomatic nod and a wink."


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