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U.K. Judges Reject Terror Suspect Appeals

October 29, 2003

LONDON (AP) _ British judges rejected the appeals Wednesday of five suspected international terrorists who were detained without trial under emergency powers.

Jamal Ajouaou, accused of links to the man suspected of plotting to blow up Los Angeles Airport, was one of those whose appeal was rejected. He has already left Britain, as permitted under the anti-terror law.

As a cluster of rights activists protested outside a central London court, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission issued the first of 10 judgments on appeals against detention. The first five were issued at once and the final decisions were expected in the afternoon.

Most of the suspects have not been identified by name.

The commission was asked to rule on whether the government had enough evidence to justify interning the men.

The 10, some of whom have been detained in high-security jails since December 2001, were interned under emergency anti-terrorism legislation brought into force two months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The provision applies to terror suspects who are not British citizens and whose lives would be endangered if they were deported to another country. Sixteen people have been detained under the law. Six more appeals remain to be heard. An unidentified suspect has, like Ajouaou, taken the option of leaving the country.

A ruling was expected later on another named suspect, Palestinian asylum seeker Mahmoud Abu Rideh, accused of ties to associates of Osama bin Laden. The eight others have not been identified.

The government has accused Ajouaou of procuring equipment for terrorist organizations and having links to Amar Makhlulif, also known as Abu Doha, wanted by U.S. officials in connection with the Los Angeles plot. Ajouaou, a Moroccan national, has returned to his home country.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said he was ``very, very pleased″ with the judges’ decision.

``The process we followed ... we believe was proportionate and sensitive to the real challenge of managing to defend civil rights whilst defending us against terrorists,″ he told Sky News TV.

Under the legislation, lawyers for Blunkett have to prove only that the government has ``reasonable grounds to suspect″ the detainees have links with terrorism _ a far lower requirement than the standard of proof that would be required to convict them in a criminal court.

Lawyers for the suspected terrorists claim the evidence against them is ``fragmentary and incomplete.″

Critics say the law is an abuse of human rights. About 25 protesters gathered on the steps of the court building in central London before the verdicts were handed down.

``We are against internment without trial,″ said Estella Schmid, of the Campaign Against Criminalizing Communities. ``We are not supporting terrorists but we do think every human being has to have a fair trial. This is a principle of a civil society.″

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