UK police cleared of assaulting terror suspect

AP News
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Posted: Jun 03, 2011 9:46 AM
UK police cleared of assaulting terror suspect

Four British police officers were cleared Friday of beating, insulting and sexually assaulting a terrorism suspect wanted in the Unites States.

Constables Nigel Cowley, Roderick James-Bowen, Mark Jones and John Donohue were found not guilty of the alleged assault on Babar Ahmad in December 2003, when he was briefly detained in connection with a suspected British terrorism plot.

Ahmad, a 37-year-old computer specialist, has not faced in charges in Britain, but was arrested in 2004 on a U.S. warrant, accused of running websites used to raise money for terrorists.

Following a four-week trial, a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London dismissed his claims that police had physically harmed him and mocked his Islamic faith. However, police had previously paid him 60,000 pounds (US$98,000) in damages over his alleged treatment.

Colin Reynolds, lawyer for the police, said a bug installed in Ahmad's home before his arrest had proven that his claims of mistreatment were false.

"That evidence proved the account originally given by these officers was correct and specific details of the complaint made by Mr. Ahmad were not present," he said following the verdict.

Reynolds said that the officers were now hoping to return to their usual posts. Three of the men are currently working, but on restricted duties, the fourth is suspended over an unrelated matter.

Scotland Yard said it would carry out its own internal misconduct review before the officers can return to work.

Ahmad, in prison since 2004, has been held without charge for the longest period of any British citizen detained since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

He is awaiting the outcome of a European court hearing on his extradition to the U.S. The court is expected to rule later this year on whether he should be sent for trial.

Ahmad is accused in the U.S. of supporting al-Qaida, Taliban and Chechen militants between 1998 and 2003 by operating a website that raised funds for terrorism and provided instructions on carrying out attacks.

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David Stringer can be reached at http://bit.ly/b2tTK0