An Innocent Man
A pilot who was indicted seven years ago in Phoenix on immigration charges and accused in court of training the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers deserves compensation for having been wrongly jailed in England, a British court has ruled.
The Associated Press reports today that a British Court of Appeal ruling sharply criticized police and prosecutors for their handling of the case of Lotfi Raissi. The Algerian-born pilot became notorious as the first person accused in open court of participating in the attacks on New York and Washington. After Raissi had spent nearly five months in custody, a British judge ordered him released, saying there was no evidence to link him with the attacks.
The flimsy case against Raissi was the subject of a Washington Post investigation published in December 2001, while Raissi remained in custody and under indictment. The article revealed that a confidential FBI report showed that authorities were quietly retreating from dramatic early claims that Raissi had trained all four of the suicide pilots. The article said FBI officials privately acknowledged that they were unsure whether Raissi actually played a role in planning the hijackings. The article concluded that if the allegations against Raissi fell apart, other countries might become less willing to cooperate in apprehending terrorism suspects.
Today, [Thursday Feb. 14] the Associated Press reported that the three-judge appeals court said British officials had abused the legal process by using an extradition warrant on trivial charges to hold Raissi indefinitely for questioning. The British Justice Ministry said it is considering whether to appeal the ruling, which reversed a High Court decision a year ago that Raissi was not entitled to compensation.
While the Court of Appeal cannot order compensation, the ruling indicates its belief that Raissi is entitled to it, the AP said.
-- Joe Stephens
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Posted by: hairy | March 15, 2008 3:57 AM