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Joined: 19-December 06
Did we know about this little news item buried away in the Mid Sussex Times, yesterday, Monday 9th June 2008 ?
Crawley terror plotters to appeal against life sentences
THREE men caged for plotting to cause death and destruction with a massive fertiliser bomb will appeal to get their convictions quashed.
Omar Khyam, 25, Waheed Mahmood, 34, and Jawad Akbar, 23, all from Langley Green, were sentenced in May 2007 after being found guilty of the al-Qaeda plot to blow up prominent targets in the south east.
Targets were said to include the Bluewater Shopping Centre, in Kent, and London's Ministry of Sound nightclub.
Three Crawley men jailed for their part in an al-Qaeda bomb plot will tomorrow launch an appeal to get their convictions quashed.
Two other men - Salahuddin Amin, 31, from Luton, and Anthony Garcia, 24, from east London, were also given a life sentence for their part in the plot.
But tomorrow (Tuesday) lawyers for the five will tell an Appeal Court judge that their convictions should be overturned as they are "unsafe".
The appeal hearing is expected to last up to nine days.
Five Muslims Convicted in U.K. Bomb Plot Appeal Life Sentences
By Caroline Byrne
June 10 (Bloomberg) -- Five men convicted in the U.K.'s longest terrorism trial of plotting deadly bombings at a London nightclub and shopping mall appealed their convictions and life sentences on 32 legal grounds.
The men will criticize the handling of the 14-month trial and argue there were abuses that started with the interrogation of defendant Salahuddin Amin in Pakistan. They will also complain about telephone wiretaps and the jury's exposure to publicity, Amin's lawyer Patrick O'Connor said at a hearing today.
``We will want to investigate why this trial took as long as it did,'' Justice Igor Judge said, adding that the three-judge Court of Appeal panel would consider the affect of lengthy trials on the U.K. jury system.
Amin and Omar Khyam, the alleged ringleader who testified that he had ``mixed feelings'' about the Sept. 11 attacks and joked about blowing up Parliament, were among the five convicted in 2007 of plotting to bomb London's Ministry of Sound nightclub, power stations and the 330-store Bluewater shopping mall.
The men, aged 25 to 35 when they were convicted in April 2007, were charged with conspiring to cause explosions likely to endanger life or seriously injure property. The prosecutor alleges they intended to use ammonium nitrate-laced fertilizer.
Some of the suspects had close links with two of the four suicide bombers who killed 52 people in London on July 7, 2005. High Court Justice Michael Astill, the original trial judge, told the men during sentencing last year that they had ``betrayed the country that has given you every advantage in life.''
Waheed Mahmood, Jawad Akbar, Anthony Garcia were also convicted in the first trial involving what prosecutors and police described as a ``homegrown'' Muslim terror cell plotting to carry out mass murder in the U.K.
The five bearded men, who listened to the start of court proceedings today via a video link to prison, didn't testify. The hearing, which was closed to reporters shortly after it began, is expected to last several days.
To contact the reporter on this story: Caroline Byrne in London at firstname.lastname@example.org. Last Updated: June 10, 2008 07:36 EDT
Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 13:27 UK
Terror trials 'too long for jury'
The five men convicted (clockwise: Omar Khyam, Salahuddin Amin, Waheed Mahmood, Anthony Garcia and Jawad Akbar) Five men convicted of a bomb plot are appealing against their convictions
Jury trials in terrorist cases are under threat because they can take too long, president of the Queen's Bench Division, Sir Igor Judge, has said.
The jury system "simply cannot survive" if trials lasted 14 months, he said.
He was referring to the case of five men imprisoned for planning a terror attack using a giant fertiliser bomb.
The men are appealing against their convictions and sentence at the Court of Appeal, where Sir Igor, who is presiding, made his comments.
The judge, who is presiding over the appeal alongside Mr Justice Bean and Mrs Justice Dobbs, said the court would want to investigate "why this trial took as long as it did".
During the trial, 3,644 witness statements were taken and there were 105 prosecution witnesses.
Furthermore, the jury deliberated for 27 days, which was a record in British criminal history.
Omar Khyam, 25, Waheed Mahmood, 34, Jawad Akbar, 23, Salahuddin Amin, 31, and Anthony Garcia, 24, were all jailed for plotting to attack targets including the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London and the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.
They were found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life, at the end of a lengthy Old Bailey trial last year.
The men watched the proceedings at the Court of Appeal via video link from prison.
During their bid to have their convictions overturned as unsafe, legal representatives for the men are set to make submissions on 32 grounds of appeal. Patrick O'Connor QC, representing Amin, gave an overview of the case, in which he said criticisms would be made relating to rulings made by Judge Sir Michael Astill and his "approach to various issues".
In addition to being found guilty of plotting a terror campaign, Khyam and Garcia were convicted of having 600kg (1,300lb) of ammonium nitrate fertiliser.
And Khyam was further found guilty of having aluminium powder for the explosives.
The men were arrested after the fertiliser was found stored in a warehouse in Hanwell, west London, in 2004.
Waheed Mahmood, Khyam, and Garcia were told by the trial judge that they would have to serve a minimum of 20 years in jail.
Akbar and Amin were told they would have to serve at least 17-and-a-half years.
Are the 'left' beginning to cotton on and catch up?
Case studies raise question marks over terror convictions
The existing terrorism laws have the potential for miscarriages of justice.
For instance, the appeal hearing started last week of five men convicted of plotting bombings in Britain’s longest terrorism trial.
They appealed against their convictions and life sentences on 32 legal grounds.
The men will criticise the handling of the 14-month trial and argue that there were abuses that started with the torture of one defendant, Salahuddin Amin, in Pakistan.
They will also complain about telephone wiretaps and the jury’s exposure to publicity, their lawyer Patrick O’Connor said at a hearing.
Seven men were arrested in March 2004 following the discovery of half a tonne of chemical fertiliser in west London. Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood, Jawad Akbar, Salahuddin Amin, Anthony Garcia were all convicted of terror offences.
The defendants denied there was a plot. Some said they did not know what the fertiliser was, or that they were only interested in sending money to fighters in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
At the time of the original trial, solicitor Imran Khan said the trial was marred by “coached witnesses” and “an atmosphere of hostility against Muslims at home and abroad”.
The key prosecution witness in the trial was Mohammed Junaid Babar. Since his arrest in New York in 2004, Babar has given evidence to prosecutors in four countries. He was given immunity from prosecution in Britain in exchange for his testimony.
The appeal hearing, which was closed to the press shortly after it began, continues.
Saeed Ghafoor was in prison when he claimed he was plotting to pack three limousines with gas canisters and detonate them at the Bluewater shopping centre in Dartford, Kent – even though he thought it was in Devon.
He was serving a 12-month prison sentence for trying to strangle his sister. The first prison officer to hear his claim thought he was a fantasist.
Nevertheless Ghafoor was put on trial on terrorism charges. The court heard how when another prison officer visited his cell, Ghafoor tapped a folder containing news reports of the Iraq war and told the officer, “These are my plans.”
Pierce Arnold, for the prosecution, told the Old Bailey, “It appeared on the face of it to be a serious threat.”
The authorities took Ghafoor’s threats seriously, despite the prisoner’s belief that Bluewater was in Exeter, Devon. When told it is in fact in Kent, he said he had not yet fully “finalised” his scheme.
Ghafoor pleaded guilty. His sentencing was adjourned until 30 June.
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Fertiliser bomb plotters lose appeal
PA Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Five men jailed for life for plotting a series of bomb attacks to rival the 9/11 New York atrocities lost challenges against their convictions today.
Omar Khyam, Waheed Mahmood and Jawad Akbar, from Crawley, West Sussex, Anthony Garcia, of Barkingside, east London, and Salahuddin Amin, of Luton, Bedfordshire, were all found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life after a lengthy trial at the Old Bailey last year.
At the Court of Appeal in London today, three judges rejected their bids to overturn their convictions.
The jury was told by the prosecution that the five plotted to bomb public places such as the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London and the giant Bluewater shopping centre in Kent using chemical fertiliser bombs.
Khyam, Mahmood and Garcia were told by the trial judge that they would have to serve a minimum of 20 years in jail.
Akbar and Amin were told they would have to serve at least 17-and-a-half years.
Today Sir Igor Judge, Mr Justice Bean and Mrs Justice Dobbs reduced Garcia's minimum term to 17-and-a-half years.
They also cut the minimum term in Amin's case to 16 years and nine months.
During their recent appeals against conviction, criticisms were raised over the trial judge's handling of their case.
Patrick O'Connor QC, representing Amin, giving an overview of the case, said criticisms related to rulings made by Judge Sir Michael Astill and his "approach to various issues".
Khyam and Garcia were also convicted of having 600kg (1,300lb) of ammonium nitrate fertiliser. Khyam was further found guilty of having aluminium powder for the explosives.
The gang was arrested after the fertiliser was found stored in a warehouse in Hanwell, west London, in early 2004.
Sir Igor, the newly-appointed Lord Chief Justice, said: "The many and varied criticisms of the summing-up are unfounded."
He referred to the "care with which the judge approached the unenviable task of summarising the evidence and the rival contentions for the prosecution and all seven defendants in the course of this mammoth trial".
Sir Igor added: "The single error of omission for which the summing-up can fairly be criticised was immaterial to the safety of the convictions, and examined in the overall context of the task which he faced, it was trivial."
He said: "By the time the jury came to reflect on their verdicts, they had the advantage of accurate directions of law and a masterly precis of the critical evidence called and the opposing contentions of both sides."
Sir Igor said it had been suggested that the minimum sentence to be served in each case was "excessive".
The judge said that "with two relatively small exceptions" - the terms imposed on Amin and Garcia - "we disagree".
During the hearing of the appeal applications Sir Igor had expressed concern at the length of the trial, when he commented: "The jury system simply cannot survive if we have trials that last 14 months. It is not fair to jurors.".
In today's ruling, he said it had been pointed out that "this case is no longer typical of terrorist trials".
He said: "Much closer judicial case management and the exercise of the powers now available under the Criminal Procedure Rules have produced a significant reduction in the number of pre-trial hearings, as well as the length of most terrorist cases."
Sir Igor said: "Adherence to, and if necessary, judicial enforcement of the rules is and remains a high priority, and judges and practitioners who fulfil their own responsibilities within the trial process on the basis that time is a limited resource can anticipate wholehearted support in this court if and when they are criticised for doing so.
"None of these measures interfere with the due administration of justice. Rather they enhance it."