Ruling due on failed London bombers

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Published: Tuesday 16th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Human rights judges are to rule today whether f ailed July 21 2005 bombers who attempted to blow up the London Underground network were wrongly convicted.

Somali nationals Muktar Said Ibrahim, Ramzi Mohammed and Yassin Omar claim their convictions were unfair as they were denied access to lawyers during police questioning and statements they gave were subsequently used at trial.

A fourth claimant – Ismail Abdurahman – was convicted of assisting one of the suspected bombers and also claims his trial was unfair as a statement he provided as a witness, rather than a suspect, was used against him.

All four men brought a claim to the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, under article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to a fair trial and right to legal assistance.

The planned attack came two weeks after the 7/7 bombers killed 52 people on three Tube trains and a bus in central London in 2005. The failed bombers claimed they took homemade explosives in rucksacks onto the Underground network as an elaborate hoax to protest against the war in Iraq.

Ibrahim, Mohammed and Omar were convicted in July 2007 of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to a minimum term of 40 years’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal subsequently refused leave to appeal against their conviction.

Abdurahman was convicted in February 2008 of assisting one of the suspected bombers and of failing to disclose information about the bombings. He was sentenced to a total of ten years’ imprisonment.

His appeal against his conviction was dismissed in November 2008 and his sentence reduced to eight years’ imprisonment on account of the early assistance that he had given to the police.

The case principally concerns the question of delaying access to a lawyer during police questioning, which took place in the aftermath of the attempted suicide bombings.

Ibrahim, Mohammed and Omar, who were born in 1978, 1981, and 1981 respectively, were temporarily refused legal assistance in order for police “safety interviews” – conducted urgently for the purpose of protecting life – to be held.

The terrorists’ statements during those interviews, denying any involvement in the events, were later admitted as evidence at their trial.

Unlike the other applicants, Abdurahman was not suspected of having detonated a bomb and was interviewed as a witness.

However, he started to incriminate himself by explaining his encounter with one of the suspected bombers shortly after the attacks and the assistance he provided to that suspect.

Rather than arrest him and advise him of his right to silence and to legal assistance, police continued to question him as a witness and took a written statement from him. He was subsequently offered legal advice and consistently referred to his written statement.

This statement was subsequently admitted as evidence at his trial.

In a completely separate claim, the Strasbourg court will rule whether four men were wrongly convicted in two different cases after written statements from victims were used at trial without the opportunity to examine the relevant witnesses.

Published: Tuesday 16th December 2014 by The News Editor

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