Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 6 News List

British government denied appeal in Algerian terror case

AFP , LONDON

The British government has lost its court battle against a ruling that allowed an Algerian pilot wrongly accused of training the Sept. 11 hijackers to claim compensation, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Ministers were refused leave to appeal to Britain’s highest court over a lower court ruling on Feb. 27 that Lotfi Raissi was entitled to seek damages for his wrongful arrest and imprisonment, Jules Carey said.

The ruling means Raissi, who is trained to fly Boeing 737 jets, could be paid millions of pounds in compensation for lost earnings, the lawyer said in a statement.

“Given the clear opinions expressed by the Court of Appeal, we would expect the Minister of Justice [Jack Straw] to finally grant the application for compensation,” he said.

Raissi, 33, said in the same statement that Straw “has no more appeals and no more excuses” and it was for the minister “to accept the decision of the court and to offer me the long awaited apology I have always asked for.”

He had been barred from seeking damages from the British government but won on appeal.

Raissi was arrested 10 days after Islamist extremists hijacked four planes on Sept.11, 2001. He was released in February 2002 and a judge ruled there was “no evidence” to suggest his involvement, completely exonerating him.

The Court of Appeal decision said that the labeling of Raissi “as a terrorist by the authorities in this country ... has had and continues to have ... a devastating effect on his life and on his health.”

The judgment was also strongly critical of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

“We are considering the implications of the Court of Appeal’s judgment for Mr Raissi’s application for compensation and will respond to him in due course,” a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said.

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