Fresh doubts over Qatada deportation

Abu Qatada will not be immediately deported, after all
Abu Qatada will not be immediately deported, after all

By Oliver Hotham

The deportation of radical cleric Abu Qatada has been stalled once again, with the news that the radical cleric's lawyers sent a last minute appeal to the European court of human rights (ECHR). 

His deportation will now have to wait while a panel of judges considers his appeal.

A spokesman for the Home Office said that they believed the deadline for Qatada to appeal his case had passed, saying that he had "no right to request to refer the case to the grand chamber [of the court] because the three-month deadline passed at midnight on Monday".

The government intends to make the point to the European court and resume the deportation process as soon as possible, the spokesman said.

Qatada's legal team are arguing that the government had mistakenly arrested him before his deadline ran out, saying they still had 24 hours.

The extremist cleric, who is believed to be an Al-Qaida operative with strong support among radical Islamists in Europe, has been resisting deportation to Jordan to stand trial since 2001.

The ECHR previously ruled against allowing the United Kingdom to deport Qatada, citing the possibility of evidence obtained by torture being used in his trial.

But yesterday the government said it had received all the necessary assurances from the Jordanian government that this would not be the case.

The home secretary triumphantly announced his arrest and imminent deportation, but stressed "it might still take time".

If returned to Jordan, Qatada stands accused of plotting to murder American and Israeli tourists in bomb attacks. 


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