The London Times reports that an Algerian pilot wrongfully accused of involvement in the 9/11 plot has been cleared by the Appeal Court in England to sue the British government for compensation.
The Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Secretary came in for scathing criticism from senior judges for making false allegations and withholding evidence from the courts in the case of Lotfi Raissi.The Met and the CPS had originally told courts that flight logs at a flying school in Arizona had been falsified to cover up his training flights with Hani Hanjour, the pilot of the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon and that Abu Doha, an Algerian terrorist organiser, had Mr Raissi’s phone number in an address book. Both claims were false. The UK Government's defense was that both were simply passing along information from US authorities but the Appeals Court said they bore responsibility for not knowing better.
...the court said the British authorities used a US extradition warrant “as a device to circumvent the rule of English law” by detaining him for almost six months in Belmarsh prison.
...The court, presided over by Sir Anthony Clarke, the Master of the Rolls, “completely exonerated” Mr Raissi of any connection to the 9/11 attacks. That declaration marked a crucial personal breakthrough for Mr Raissi in his six-year legal battle to clear his name.
It ordered Jacqui Smith and Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to reconsider the refusal by successive Home Secretaries to compensate him as a victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Lawyers for Mr Raissi are expected to present a damages claim for the loss of his career as a commercial pilot, wrongful imprisonment and damage to health, which could exceed £2 million.
“There is evidence that the actions of the Metropolitan Police resulted in false statements being made to the courts contributing to the decision to refuse [Mr Raissi] bail.
“We consider that the serious allegation relating to the destruction of flight records covering the period of training with the hijackers (allegedly resulting from carelessness or incompetence by the police) would be capable of amounting to serious default which had a causative effect on the decision to remand [Mr Raissi] in custody”.
The court questioned whether the CPS had disclosed all revelant evidence in its possession and reminded the prosecuting authority that it owed the courts “a duty of candour and good faith”.
The judges said the “primary responsibility for the falsity” in alleging that Mr Raissi had contact with Aby Doha lay jointly with the Yard and the CPS.
The judges ruled: “It does not appear to us that the CPS can be absolved from all responsibility for this state of affairs. There is a considerable body of evidence to suggest that the police and the CPS were responsible for serious defaults.”
The authorities, the court concluded, had abused the legal process to keep Mr Raissi in prison for almost six months while the FBI conducted inquiries about him.
The judges ruled: “The extradition proceedings were a device to secure the appellant’s presence in the US for the purpose of investigating 9/11... We consider that the way in which the extradition proceedings were conducted in this country, with opposition to bail based on allegations which appear unfounded in evidence, amounted to an abuse of process.
“The proceedings were used as a device to circumvent the rule of English law that a terrorist supect could (at that time) be held without charge for only seven days.”