UK would-be shoebomber sentence cut over deal

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 16, 2012 12:01 PM
UK would-be shoebomber sentence cut over deal

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - A Briton convicted of plotting with shoebomber Richard Reid to carry out a suicide bomb attack on an aircraft has had his jail term reduced after striking a deal to give evidence at the trial of a man accused of an al Qaeda bombing plot in New York.

Saajid Badat, 33, was convicted in Britain in 2005 of conspiring with Reid to blow up planes in simultaneous attacks and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Reid failed in his bid to blow up an American Airlines plane from Paris to Miami on December 22, 2001 after passengers and crew overpowered him as he tried to ignite explosives in his shoe. Reid was jailed in the United States for life.

Badat was booked on a flight from Britain to the United States via Amsterdam days earlier, but had a change of heart and abandoned his attack plans. He then cooperated with counter-terrorism police and the FBI while in prison.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said on Monday his jail sentence had now been shortened to 11 years after he agreed to testify at the trial of Adis Medunjanin, a suspected al Qaeda militant and other suspected militants.

Medunjanin is accused of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder and providing material support to al Qaeda and is due to go on trial in New York on Monday.

The deal involving Badat, agreed in 2009 but only revealed on Monday, is the first of its kind to be made by British prosecutors and the decision had not been taken lightly, according to Sue Hemming, Head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division.

"We considered very carefully the merits of entering into this agreement with a convicted terrorist, and we believe that the administration of justice internationally benefits from such an agreement," Hemming said in a statement.

"This trial is the first time a UK-convicted terrorist has agreed, under the terms of our agreement, to give evidence in the United States."

She added that Badat had helped with other terrorism investigations in Britain and had agreed to give evidence at other trials if necessary.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)