UK & World News

  • 10 March 2013, 3:53

Abu Qatada Ordered To Be Returned To Jail

A judge has ruled in a special hearing that radical preacher Abu Qatada must remain in custody after being arrested for allegedly breaching bail conditions.

His detention came just days ahead of a new Government attempt to have him deported.

"At a telephone hearing this afternoon with lawyers for both sides, Mr Justice Irwin, Chairman of SIAC (Special Immigration Appeals Commission), ordered the return of Omar Othman, otherwise known as Abu Qatada, to prison," the Judicial Office said in a statement.

He will be detained at Belmarsh prison until a further hearing on March 21.

The court heard evidence suggesting Qatada had broken the bail condition which prohibits him from permitting mobile phones to be switched on in his house while he is present, the Judicial Office added.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are pleased the Special Immigration Appeals Commission has decided to revoke bail for this individual on an interim basis following serious breaches of his bail conditions.

"We will vigorously argue our case at the next hearing on 21 March."

Speaking at a Tory grassroots conference, Theresa May pledged that the Conservatives would scrap the Human Rights Act and could even end Britain's association with the European Convention on Human Rights if they were elected in 2015.

Ms May said cited the case of Qatada saying that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg was "constantly moving the goalposts" to prevents the deportation of Qatada to Jordan.

Qatada, who has been convicted of terror charges in Jordan, was arrested by UK Border Agency officials on Friday following raids by the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism unit.

Searches at two residential homes and a business in northwest and west London began on Thursday, while a search of a third property in northwest London is ongoing, Scotland Yard said.

The searches were carried out in connection with ongoing enquiries by the Counter Terrorism Command, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said.

However, no arrests have been made in connection with the police investigation, he added.

The Home Office said: "The UK Border Agency arrested a 52-year-old man from north London for alleged breaches of his bail conditions imposed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC)."

Qatada was reportedly arrested by officials outside his family home in London.

The Sun newspaper showed pictures of him being escorted out of his house with his hands hidden under a jacket.

Qatada was due to appear at the Court of Appeal on Monday for Home Secretary Theresa May's attempt to overturn a judge's decision to allow him to stay in the UK.

Ms May will challenge the decision in front of three Court of Appeal judges led by Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls.

Once described by a Spanish judge as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", Qatada has used human rights laws to fight deportation for more than a decade.

SIAC decided last November that Qatada could not lawfully be deported to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999.

SIAC judges ruled there was a danger that evidence from Qatada's former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al Hamasher, said to have been obtained by torture, could be used against him in a retrial in Jordan.

He was granted bail following the ruling by three SIAC judges and released from Long Lartin prison in November last year.

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