View Full Version : Stansted hijackers to be freed

Pilot Pete
23rd May 2003, 01:14
BBC reports that the Afgan hijackers of a 727 back in 2000 that ended up at Stansted have been released on appeal. It appears to be on a point of law.

full story here (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3051259.stm)

from the BBC report

Afghan hijackers freed on appeal

The plane was diverted to Stansted
The nine men found guilty of the hijack of an Afghan airliner have had their convictions quashed at the Court of Appeal in London.
Brothers Ali and Mohammed Safi - who had been accused of leading the hijack - were jailed for five years in January last year.

They told their trial they were fleeing persecution by the Taleban.

Lord Justice Longmore, Mr Justice Hooper and Mrs Justice Cox ruled the convictions were "unsafe" because the law relating to whether the men had acted under duress had been wrongly applied at their trial.

The Crown Prosecution Service has already indicated it will appeal "on a point of law" to the House of Lords.

The appeal judges said they would give their reasons for the ruling at a later date.

They hijacked a plane, that's certainly correct, but... they were still acting under the force of the duress

Richard Ferguson
For the men

Six of the other men received sentences of 30 months, with the youngest accused getting a 27-month sentence.

The cost of the incident, including two trials, a huge police cordon at Stansted, and disruption to the airport and business was thought to have to have reached £12m.

But there have been estimates that the total cost of the legal process for the men amounted to £20m.

The men had given themselves up after a 70-hour siege at Stansted Airport in Essex.

Escape bid

The Afghan Ariana Boeing 727 had been diverted during an internal flight in Afghanistan in February 2000.

The men were convicted at the Old Bailey in December 2001 of hijacking the plane, false imprisonment, possessing firearms with intent to cause fear of violence and possessing explosives.

They had said they were escaping persecution from the Taleban regime, and all are reported to have applied for asylum in the UK.

The ruling means the Safi brothers, 37 and 35, the only members of the group still in custody, are likely to be released imminently.

Abdul Shohab, 21, Taimur Shah, 29, Kazim Mohammed, 28, Nazamuddin Mohammidy, 28, Abdul Ghayur, 25, and Mohammed Showaib, 26 have all been released already.

Richard Ferguson, representing the Safis, said: "There was an onus on the defence to prove duress and that's where the legal debate centred and that's really the basis of the Court of Appeal's decision."

Taleban fears

He told BBC News 24: "The factors involved in this case were that these men were escaping from the Taleban regime.

"They hijacked a plane, that's certainly correct, but their case all along was that thereafter they were still acting under the force of the duress.

"They could not give themselves up at any earlier stage because of the fear of being returned to the then Taleban regime in Afghanistan and because of that the hijack was prolonged."

The original trial judge had said the men's action "was brought about by fear of death at the hand of a tyrannical, unreasoning and merciless regime".

But he argued it had changed in nature at Moscow Airport when the hijackers refused to release hostages who did not share their objective of reaching Britain.

And he said they had prolonged the 70-hour standoff at Stansted for political reasons.

The prosecution had said the men were armed with four guns, a knife and two hand grenades, and that they threatened to kill passengers and blow up the plane.


Compass Call
23rd May 2003, 01:41
It seems that armed hijacking of aircraft is now legal in the UK according to the courts!!!! In my opinion, hijacking, armed or otherwise and for whatever reason is ILLEGAL and the people who commit this crime should be put in jail and the key thrown away. The judge who freed these men requires his head examining as he is obviously not sane. I just don't know what this country is coming to. :mad: :mad: :mad:


23rd May 2003, 02:40
English law has I am affraid just become the Laughing stock of the world. We are sending out the message that you can hijack an aircraft and fly into Britain and get away with it........
as long as you remember to pay your council tax when you get here that is, because if you forget to do that then you will go to jail! :*

23rd May 2003, 02:53
Last week we had a new motion tabelled in the House of Commons for increased punishments and sentences for those that endanger an aircraft - ie drunks, violent behavior etc etc.

This week the Law Lords, in their oh so infinete wisdom decide that it is now legal to hijack an aircraft. What kind of message does this set out to would be terrorists? It just goes to show how out of touch our judges are. Mr Blunkett was spot on with what he said about them recently.

I call upon the highest judge in the land to sack the Judge concerned and the hijackers to be put back in prison.

23rd May 2003, 03:33
The men who HIJACKED a B727 passenger airliner using VIOLENCE and THREATENING behaviour, forced it to fly into UK airspace and land at Stansted airport have had there convictions quashed.

The United Kingdom government has now set an extremely dangerous precident. It says in no uncertain terms that if you wish to flee from a country or dictatorship or religiously fanatical regime, you have a chance of a new life free from death threats, beatings etc in the UK. All you have to do is get a gang of like minded individuals and hijack an airliner. Once you have commandered the vessel, instruct the crew to fly to the UK. When you land, claim asylum. You will go to court, you will be charged with hijacking an airliner. While your case is being prepared your asylum request is also being processed. You will be be convicted of the offence, but there is now a very very strong case for your defence that you were fleeing death and like the Stansted hijackers it was your only way out. Your conviction will now probably be quashed and your asylum claim accepted. You are now no longer a criminal and are free to go.
Leave the jail, pick up the keys to your newly acquired council flat,
on the way to it in a taxi, ask the driver to stop at the local job centre so that you can pick up your housing benefit, your crisis loan and jobseekers allowance.
Now armed with some cash travel on to your new council flat. Upon entering you are pleasantly surprised to find furniture and electricity and running water and not two minutes have passed when there is a knock at your door. Its your friends who hijacked the airliner with you!! They have also had their convictions quashed and are very happy to see you. It worked, it worked they all shout, dancing and whooping and cheering. We even get money!!! There is no need to get a job when we are getting paid all of our benefits. So the UK taxpayer ends up footing the bill once again, thats you and me folks!!

What a f***ed up country we live in. :*

23rd May 2003, 04:01
Question???- If this hijacking had happend post 9/11 and pax had intervened (as i think they would) maybe killing or injuring the hijackers would the pax then be charged with murder or GBH as the hijackers it seems had commited no offence??

Just a thought!!

23rd May 2003, 04:17
Mr Ferguson appears to specialise in air industry cases. He defended REM star Peter Buck in his drunken air rage attack. Some of his other other laudable cases include defending Rosemary West and the killers of PC Blakelock, on the London Broadwater Farm Estate, in 1985.
Incidentally his practice has a website.

U/S President
23rd May 2003, 04:28
I call upon the highest judge in the land to sack the Judge concerned and the hijackers to be put back in prison
Seven of them were released before this appeal in any way, having served their poultry 27 to 30 month sentences.

If their sole aim was to escape Afghanistan, they would have given themselves up on arrival in Moscow. But no: having made it to Russia, they then demanded to go to an even nicer country.

23rd May 2003, 05:42
Now that the Taliban is out of power in Afghanistan, I don't see where this is a solid arguement. Send them home to meet their relatives. I'm astonished the U.K courts bought duress as an arguement. These people hijacked a fricking Airliner and they admit it !!

Does that mean if anyone of us is late for an important assignment, we can hijack a plane to Las Vegas and claim we were under duress? And then get off for the crime? That's the mesage I'm hearing and it sure as hell is a very dangerous precedent.


23rd May 2003, 06:52
I just cannot believe this latest judgement!

Why no statement from BALPA in the media?

Roll on the revolution - the Brits must be the laughing stock of the world!

23rd May 2003, 07:17
To quote saying I hear day and day out about what is happening in this country:

‘Were will it all end?’

Captain Sand Dune
23rd May 2003, 07:27
Haven't you guys learnt anything?:(

23rd May 2003, 08:17
I just fail to understand what kind of justice system we have in this country. This just about says it all....makes you wanna give up. Wonder why we bust our backsides struggling to become aircrew in the first place.....so we can be a taxi service for this kind ***m

Capt H Peacock
23rd May 2003, 15:48
The UK has spent many years cultivating the reputation for a country that gives no quarter to terrorism. The Iranian Embassy siege was a watershed, sending a clear signal that anyone who plans a terrorist operation in the UK stands a very high chance of failure or death. Similarly, all hijacks that have happened in the UK have ended here with a satisfactory outcome.

And now this. A clever lawyer, a state prosecution service that can’t make the simplest of cases stick, and a woefully misguided judiciary have all conspired to demolish the life’s work of many fine people. We stand by, completely powerless, while a section of humanity intent on the deaths of anyone who doesn’t support their team, destroy our World using our laws and our liberalism.

I despair, I just despair.

23rd May 2003, 16:07
Even if the legal argument can be applied to the escape from Afghanistan , how can it be applied to the susequent flight from Moscow to Stansted, and then to holding the passengers and crew hostage for four days once they got here.

23rd May 2003, 16:46
newarksmells, I think you may be misrepresenting the situation when you sayNow that the Taliban is out of power in Afghanistan........Recent events, especially in the south and east of the country would indicate that the Taliban are still a force to be reckoned with, allegedly supported by the weakness of Pakistan to take any action with regard to cross-border activity. At the end of April two American soldiers were killed by a group thought to consist of 800 pro-Taliban forces.

However, IMHO that does not support the case that these people would still be "at risk" if they were returned to other areas of Afghanistan.

In cases where a defendant is accused of the death of another individual, mitigating circumstances are frequently presented before the court, to "explain away" the reason why the defendant acted in the way he/she did. Whilst this often leads to a reduction in the severity of the sentence, it seldom results in a complete "Let off".

In this case, the defendants have every right to put before the Appeal court the reasons why they felt (and still feel) they were "at risk". It is then up to the judges to evaluate this evidence in support of their case. It will be interesting to read the full reasons for the Appeal Courts decision, if/when they are released. They have so far said that the trial judge made a mistake in his interpretation of the mitigating circumstances. In itself this does not make them innocent, but rather shows up once again the fallibility of the British justice system in relation to "benefit of doubt".

Joshua Rozenburg makes some interesting points in his analysis in today's DT.

I am sure that Jack Straw must regret his statement after the event "I am utterly determined that nobody should consider that there can be any benefit in hijacking."
He ruled out the possibility of the passengers - some of whom are thought to have colluded in the hijack - remaining as asylum seekers. But more than 50 are still thought to be in the country as well as the hijackers.

Let us hope that he uses the full extent of his power to fulfill his determination!

Random Electron
23rd May 2003, 18:24
Ever heard the saying "The lunatics are running the Asylum"?

Well, that's what we have now.

The law is an ass. Never a truer word.

23rd May 2003, 18:50
If I may continue a little from Bumfichh,

Let's throw the possibility in the not too distant future of an "armed pilot" senario into the hijack equation? Pilot defending his/her aircraft versus desperate people (and I'm not making light of whatever conditions they may be trying to escape from, but a Jet is not a fast-track for asylum seeking).

Following this insane decision, would would the court support?:suspect:

Metro man
23rd May 2003, 19:04
Now they will probably sue for damages for false imprisonment , and win. No I'm not joking:*

23rd May 2003, 19:35
We really are the laughing stock of the world. How the hell can a reasonably intelligent man, who has qualified in Law to the highest level, possibly think it is acceptable for an aircraft to be hijacked? It is this judge who should have been on board the 727 at the time of the incident. Let's see how he'd feel about the hijackers then.

There really are no words to sum up my anger and despair at our country's legal and political system. It is an absolute disgrace. It is a sad situation when we, not just as aircrew, but also as citizens, do not feel protected and supported by our own country's cr*p system.

I think I'll move to the Seychelles...

simon brown
23rd May 2003, 19:41
This is insane. Its a terrorists and criminals charter. How much longer are we law abiding, tax paying citizens going to have to put up with the commission hungry legal profession, presided over by the senile judiciary and governed by wishy washy incompetents, whom are only interested in spin and image.

Unless someone gets their act together Blairs days are numbered and hopefully a conservative party with strong no nonsence leadership will rectify the lunatic asylum called "great" Britain...Come back Thatcher all is forgiven :mad: :mad: :mad:

I dont feel protected from the scum of society and more, but by christ my feet wouldnt touch if i refused topay my TV licence.

There will be a right wing back lash unless things are sorted out.History has a tendency to repeat its self with monotonous regularity, and our so called educated leaders dont be able to see this. Its examples such as this that have given credence to those thugs called the BNP

23rd May 2003, 20:14
As a man with a family, I have to admit to having more than a little sympathy for anyone caught in the terrible situation any Afghan with a mindset that is post-14th century CE must have found himself (and particularly herself) in during the Taleban years. However, (there’s always an ‘however’), I do have a slight problem with the fact that, (laudable as this is), these people seemed as focused on providing as good a life as was possible for their loved ones in flying all the way to the UK rather than stopping at the first safe port outside Afghanistan. Their actions bear a close parallel with the many from the same area who traipsed through five to ten safe countries before declaring themselves refugees in far off Australia.

Whilst it’s totally understandable for any man to try to get the best package on offer (or not on offer!) for his family, the sad fact remains (and this is something that seems to escape many well-meaning bleeding hearts who’ve never lived in the Third World) that if everyone who wants to live in the West is allowed to move there, the West will become exactly what these (economic?) ‘refugees’ are escaping from.

It’s not as though this hasn’t happened before. The Roman Empire wasn’t destroyed by marauding armies of armed invaders – it collapsed from within after many thousands of people from its conquered outer provinces moved to Rome to enjoy the better, easier life that was available there… until so many were sharing a slice of the all too finite cake, the cake was no more and Rome collapsed and Europe entered into what became known as the Dark Ages.

Don’t for one moment think it couldn’t happen again. Just try walking down the street in parts of Brixton late at night or catching a tube alone on certain lines at night and you might think we’re already there.

It will undoubtedly be painful for the people involved, but now that the Taleban have been removed from power, if the UK Government doesn’t send each and every one of the people who arrived on that aircraft back to Afghanistan, what in the world were our troops doing there putting their lives on the line for? - a bloody oil pipeline that has yet to be built?

Oh, did I really say that? Silly, silly me.

Lou Scannon
23rd May 2003, 20:45
A very valid point pulse1 ! Their safety became assured when they first landed, perhaps it was their social security benefits and a better lifestyle that didn't become assured until they continued their flight to UK.

I am old enough (just) to remember the condition Britain was in at the end of the second world war. Fortunately, our young men and women did not take the easy option of running off to places that were in a better state-they stayed here or came back-rolled up their sleeves and started to turn it back into the decent place it is today.

There is simply no justification in all these people staying here because their own countries require rebuilding. They should get off their backsides, go home and create the sort of country they want.

...and before someone accuses me of xenophobia: The Germans set an even better example of rebuilding from nothing. Remember, they had seven bells knocked out of them by The Eighth Army Air Force, the Royal Air Force and others. They didn't just sit around complaining that the Americans weren't rebuilding their place fast enough (sorry Iraq!) and that no one was clearing up the litter in the streets. They got stuck in themselves!

24th May 2003, 02:44
The aircraft was heading to Karachi was it not? Therefore they were on their way out of Afghanistan as soon as they took off. Therefore there was NEVER ANY EXCUSE to hijack the plane.

24th May 2003, 03:14
So presumably UK aircrew can now refuse to operate any flight to a country from which people feel a justified desire to leave (eg Zimbabwe, Indonesia or China, to name but a few).

After all, your employer has under UK law a duty of care towards you, and it now appears that UK law permits the use of threats and force against people, as long as they are in command of a mode of transport. I think I'd worry if I drove a truck to and from Eastern Europe as well.

So given that the law will not protect you against assault or murder, how can a company force you to put yourself in harm's way?

Truly bizarre ruling.

24th May 2003, 05:33
Believe it or not Newswatcher, the Taliban are very much out of power. I know there are bands of worthless thugs roaming the streets in Kabul, but for the 1st time in years girls are now allowed to go to school and people can actually listen to the music they as opposed to getting forced to listen to music the Taliban liked...

This British ruling is truly atrocious and ludicrous at best.


24th May 2003, 07:02
Jonny, Move to Greece, they seem to have got a fast track justice system in place. Also deports undesirables pretty quickly......

Pilot Pete
24th May 2003, 08:28
Although I was astounded by the decision myself, as are many others, I think it does need pointing out that this case sets no legal precedent, since it was on appeal that the original judge was found to have instructed the jury incorrectly. This is the reason for the successful appeal. A point of law is the layman's term for the reason for the overturned judgement.

I do not argue that point, but do agree that the duress argument should hold little water once we get beyond Moscow on the flight concerned. It does beggar belief.


24th May 2003, 09:12
Yet one more disastrous episode in the sending of totaly inapropriate messages to criminals, hijackers and refugees. Court rulings can be overturned crime pays, and hijackers head for England !:yuk: :*

Romeo Romeo
24th May 2003, 19:46
Isn't it the politicians who make the laws, not the judges - they just implement what the politicians decreed. So if people don't like the law then shouldn't they be having a go at the politicians rather than the judges?

Obviously I wasn't at the trial and I don't think the reasons for the judges' decision have been published, but I don't think that they ruled that it was OK to hijack an aeroplane; they ruled that the original judge make a mistake in assuming that the burden of proof was on the defence to indicate that the alleged hijackers were under duress rather than on the prosecution to prove it. Therefore, the subsequent conviction was unsafe, and it's now up to the CPS to decide whether they would like to retry them or not.

24th May 2003, 20:34
Guys...stick to airlaw.:p

Romeo Romeo
25th May 2003, 00:32
I think if I stuck to my knowledge of air law, this would be a very short thread!

All I'm saying is that the judges are not condoning hijacking an aeroplane any more than the judges who ruled the convictions of the Birmingham Six are condoning blowing up pubs. They ruled that the convictions are unsafe, not that hijacking an aeroplane is OK.

25th May 2003, 04:09
Hi guys,
there is only one country daft enough to allow this to happen, that's why I don't live the UK anymore, no longer a good and decent place to live because of it's legal system which penalizes the good guys and rewards the bad guys. I wish the SAS had taken these barstewards out in the first place.
last one out turn the lights out!

25th May 2003, 06:23
RomeoRomeo, nice nick :)
I have no knowledge of British law, or the case in question.
So I'll keep quiet.

But guys, here in Europe it's the same.
So don't worry!
Your reputation as a nation is not at stake!
The people will always get angry with the judges.

Ignition Override
26th May 2003, 12:06
It may be that some judges there are just as wimpy as some of our US judges, for example, Judge Lance Ito, who was supposedly "in charge" of a very famous trial years ago in Los Angeles. Is it possible that various elements have covertly threatened the lives of certain judges, not long before the final decisions happen?

26th May 2003, 17:12
So, could I keep my nailfile from now on?

27th May 2003, 20:02
Can someone tell me why - if the Taliban were so evil that we had to have a war against them, how did they manage not to be evil enough that people fleeing Afghanistan might legally be refugees? BTW, I seem to recall from the time that there was some doubt as to whether the plane was indeed hijacked - some said that the crew were in on the idea from the beginning. I think it was a flight from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul.

Paterbrat, I am very sure that if you were to be tried in a country where "court rulings could not be overturned", we would soon get to hear your sorry mad-right whingeing about democratic standards, justice, etc - because you would in that case have no right of appeal! Court rulings can be overturned in any country that has a civilised system of justice on appeal to a higher court - this is a basic principle of natural justice. What a load of rubbish!

Dirty Mach
28th May 2003, 07:01
Steamchicken - you are well off the mark.
Yes the Taliban were evil, and of course we should give asylum to all in genuine need, and fleeing from that sort of oppresion. But you conveniently ignore some very important points.

These people had already reached a safe country - Russia. Under International law (the Geneva Convention I think), a refugee should claim Asylum in the First safe country they reach. They Didn't. Instead they used theat of violence to get the plane to the UK. Assuming that this is overlooked and we grant them asylum, that asylum is granted to protect them from the authorities of their government - not an amnesty from international law (Tokyo convention) or UK law.

If it looks like a duck flies like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck and should be treated as such (preferably with Orange sauce, but I digress). As Hijackers and should still be in prison. Their lawyer has allowed them to get away with it on a technicality and that you support this release of dangerous people such as this is concerning.

There is another, beter end to this situation. As the Taleban are no longer in power, surely we can now send these people home. That way the British taxpayer won't have to feed them if they serve more time in Chokey, and wont have to foot the bill for their compensation.

28th May 2003, 17:21
Steamchicken I am interested as to why you feel that these hijackers need special consideration, or was it only I who am rightwing mad. Actualy I do live where court rulings are unlikely to be overturned and justice is swift, I accept the rules under which I live, it goes with the turf. My comment, and indignation was for the message such a repeal will send. It was hijacking. It was with weapons. It was way beyond a simple fleeing from the country they were in. It went on for three days. They threatened to kill everybody on board even after they had reached England.
Your left wing PC opinions are regretfully as much an anathema to me, I tend however to keep that opinion to myself.

29th May 2003, 06:43
I heard someone say the other day that the 'people' who hijack aircraft to claim asylum in the uk away from a dangerous or poor country have a point and they can sympathise with them.

As much as i disagree with people living in danger or poverty(i wish it didnt happen)....hijacking an aircraft is saying that you deem yourself more important or valuable to the human race than the other 315 or so other people onboard! Regardless of the fact that there may be doctors, surgeons, pilots, firemen, policemen, women and children and families onboard. I ask the people who hijack these aircraft...'Explain how you are more important than ANY of these categories!!'

These people CANNOT get away with this. Look at the asylum seekers who come to the UK by land and sea for example! a few come into the UK and get the softly approach and are granted asylum. The rest of the world gets wind of this and the spiral grows and grows and GROWS. And thats not to mention what sort of a message terrorists get from this. I bet they are thinking 'hey if we arent successful in crashing hundreds of innocent people into a building then at least we wont even get prison!!'

This countries' government and legal system sickens me. I cant believe people are able to make such OBVIOUS bad judgements and get away with it. I thought these guys who make the judgements are supposed to be lords! They appear to be the most ill-educated people in Britain.

Sorry for moaning but im sure most of you feel the same way.

Its disgusting these people have been let off. In light of the direct threats of Al Qaeda at the UK i feel much less safer in my job than i used to.


1st Jun 2003, 06:40
Corny I know, but "one man's guerilla is another man's freedom fighter".

Most people here would have supported the French resistance during WWII (yes, there was some) and who would have argued that hijacking a german airliner to escape capture by the Gestapo would be wrong?

Moral minefield - and, I'm afraid, each case must be judged on it's individual merits.

By and large, I am adamant that it is wrong, but there are cases when I have SOME sympathy with the hijackers (as with the Afghan 727 case).

I doubt this will be popular, but there you are.

1st Jun 2003, 06:41
So,The 9 Afghan man who staged the UK's longest Hijack of 3 days of the Ariana 727 in 2000, have all been cleared by the UK courts and are now set to earn up to £1MILLION in compensation.
They will also probably have the right to stay in the UK,having now claimed asylum.

Having boarded the flight armed with explosives,guns and every intent to hijack the plane ,they then threatened to KILL all onboard.

The situation has cost the UK£36M already.

The Shadow transport secretary has said that
"the controversial Court of Appeal ruling has send out a "dangerous message" and added
"My concern is that this may be sending out a signal that somehow Britain has become a soft touch on hijacking.
This will put both UK airlines and UK airports at risk.
It is the resonsibility of all of us in authority in the UK...to send out a signal that there is no justification, no excuse and no defence for acts of hijacking."

ABSOLUTE LUNACY What on earth will english law come up with next ????
If Afghanistan is a safe place to go now, then b****y well send them back without a penny,with their heads hanging in shame.
They were 'escaping' from the taliban, well there is no taliban now, so get them out.

The message this sends affects OUR safety and security in the aviation industry, and i am astounded this conclusion has been reached.
Nice to know that we are now financing people to hijack planes.
So much for the war on terrorism.- We're now encouraging it.

I am sick and tired of people chanting the 'Human Rights' mantra for EVERY thing that happens nowadays. There is no excuse, no matter how emotive, for carrying out a plane hijacking, especially in today's era of terrorist atrocities. HELLO, SEPT 11 .
This is just another opportunity to legitimise illegal immigration through any means available.
The British legal system has failed its people again and sent out the wrong message to the world.
If these criminals get compensation,then only this country could, do something as mindbendingly stupid as that.
If they do, then WE the UK taxpayer should collectively sue THEM for the £12M costs.


1st Jun 2003, 16:14
This is a Kafkaesque situation where one is reduced to hoping that it is media hype and not in fact reality.

I truly hope that this farcical situation is resolved in a manner that does not simply confirm everybodies worst fears about the bizarre state of our immigration policies and law courts.

1st Jun 2003, 20:38
Immediate threat to life, ie, government agents lining up to kill me and my loved ones, and my very survival depends upon my diverting an aircraft to a safe port? As unfashionable as it might be to say so on a forum like this, I have to say I might consider hijacking an aircraft in such a situation and damn the consequences, (which I’d have to assume might be grave, involving, at the very least, some considerable gaol time or eventual extradition).

But flying on to a second or third destination until I get to one that offers a ‘best option’ and then threatening to kill all on board unless I was granted asylum in said country of choice? I think a line has been doubtlessly crossed in the latter situation that simply can’t be accepted by any right-thinking person.

It’s often been said that “the Law’s an ass”, and maybe it is. However, I suspect that much of the blame in situations such as this one can be placed squarely at the feet of unscrupulous practitioners of the law, who cynically see for themselves an ongoing nice little earner representing such people in endless appeals – and the taxpayer foots the bill for the considerable legal fees they charge, which are covered under the provisions of Legal Aid.

2nd Jun 2003, 15:43
Personally I agree with most of Mogies post which is why I went "maybe" in the poll - but I also STRONGLY agree that in this case, with the Afghan hijackers, they did NOT have the right to continue beyond Russia and THEN they should have surrendered as SOON as they got on the ground.

4th Jun 2003, 07:23
I think everyone's missed Pilot Pete's point which was that the ruling does not condone hijacking. It means a clever lawyer has got his clients off because of a legal technicality on appeal.

Such is the logic of the law system in this country, the crime is no longer an issue with regard to correct legal procedure. The original trial judge didn't follow correct procedure - therefore the appeal judge had very little option but to quash the original sentence.

It's not about politics or senility or legalising hijack - it's just the law.

Chocks Wahey
4th Jun 2003, 11:06
............but only if you wish to take advantage of the non existant asylum policy in this country. These people are free loaders of the worst kind. An asylum seeker is someone who seeks asylum in a safe country, free from the persecution that they have suffered in thier own country. To call these people asylum seekers is an insult to those that have fled from genuine persecution.

Rant over.

4th Jun 2003, 19:20
Both Slim and Chocks highlighting again very valid points. With appologies for thread drift, consider the appeal for asylum for Saddam's daughters in the UK?? but in light of the open door policy can you blame them for trying. Incredible as it may seem they may well end up here, they have the money and some obliging smart layer and Bob's your uncle... talking of whom, can you imagine Bob Mugabe heading over here when his own population realise what an unmitigated disaster he has been for the country and turf him out. Why ever not? He's got plenty of cash, probably use the same lawyer.

The law we are told must be upheld. How sad that the spirit of the law is so often trashed by the acrobatic and well oiled manipulations of some 'gentlemen' who practice it so well. I have no doubt that there are countless men of integrity and honour who do their utmost to uphold and promote UK Justice, there are a few who make a mockery of it.

7th Jun 2003, 00:33

Pilot Pete has hit the nail very squarely on the head. These men were freed because their convictions were unsafe. Mistakes were made at their trial. Had those mistakes not been made, the defendants may very well not have been convicted. That is the point, no other.

Whether it is ever right to use force when faced with duress, what levels of duress one is supposed to put up with before violent action is permitted, whether violent action is in fact ever permitted, are entirely different, albeit valid, questions.

It is a fundamental principle in the UK that one is presumed innocent until one is proven guilty. That doesn't simply mean that there has to be sufficient evidence to prove guilt, but that the correct process in presenting that evidence must be followed to prevent abuse. Those of you screaming that 'the law is an ass!' would do well to remember that not everyone charged by the police or prosecuted by the CPS is actually guilty of an offence, and everyone - EVERYONE - deserves to be dealt with fairly and properly. And yes, some of us do actually believe that such principles are important enough to justify the odd unpalatable result.

Yours ever

8th Jun 2003, 00:52
Lawyerboy I think that posibly the outcry is because there appeared to be no mistake that the people concerned commited the act they were sentenced for.

It appears that the law 'was indeed an ass' which is why they are being freed, due to a technicality, and indeed unpalatable.

Yours in return PB

8th Jun 2003, 15:23

Does a mistake in a trial necessarily mean people convicted are let out on appeal?
These men hijacked the 727 on an internal flight, didn't surrender when it landed in Russia and ordered the pilots at gunpoint to fly to Britain. They were armed with four guns, a knife and two hand grenades, held the police at bay at Stansted for three days making threats to kill passenegrs and blow up the plane despite assurances from the British authorities that they were safe.

Couldn't the Court of Appeal have said they were satisfied the trial judge's error in the trial didn't make any difference to the verdicts because unless the jury consisted of 12 half-wits they were bound to be convicted anyway?
(I realise there must have been some oddballs on the first jury because they couldn't reach agreement, but the jury convicted the men unanimously in the retrial.)

9th Jun 2003, 01:07
Rather than spend any more of OUR money arguing the rights & wrongs of it, lets just pick them up at the gates of the prison, ship them to the closest airport, and thence back to their contry of origin. I feel that any 'Rights' they had were forfeited by their actions. Ask some of the PX on the original 'plane what should be done with them.....

9th Jun 2003, 21:02

No. The Court of Appeal could have ordered a re-trial if they had considered it to be in the interests of justice to do so.

The test for the Court of Appeal was not whether there had been some irregularity in the trial but whether the convictions were unsafe as a result. The Court can decide that despite a misdirection the convictions are safe.

However, on the facts of this case (which I know a bit about) the misdirection was a fundemental one that went to the heart of the defence.

The issue at the original trial was whether the hi-jackers acted under duress and were therefore justified in their actions. A lot of the evidence that was collected prior to the trial and in Afghanistan pre the appeal showed what a barabaric and atrocious regime the Taliban were. Certainly we and the US appeared to be satisfied that we were justified in going to war with them. The ruling of the Court of Appeal does not legalise highjacking nor make Britain a soft touch. Had the summing up not been defective the jury would have been able to consider the defence properly and fairly. Had they convicted the convictions would have been safe. If such a case were to arise again, the correct directions would be given and safe guilty or not guilty verdicts would ensue.

I agree with Moggie's earlier comment and with the benefit of hindsight wouldn't you agree that a group of jews would have been justified in hijacking an aircraft in Germany in say 1938 or 39 in order to flee to England?


I don't know Cox but Hooper's ('Super' Hooper) reputation is as a highly intelligent, fair judge. He is no soft touch and spent much of his career at the Bar as a prosecutor.

What is a liberal judge? My dictionary defines liberal as 'open-minded, candid, unprejudiced'. Admirable (although rare) qualities in a judge wouldn't you agree?? :p

9th Jun 2003, 22:04
Peterbrat - that's just my point. You might not like the result, but that result is better, at lease some might argue, than the possibility that 'technicalities' such as incorrect procedure in adducing evidence are overlooked because 'everyone knows they did it.'

Heliport - I'm not a crimilar lawyer, I don't know precisely what constitutes an usafe conviction and what doesn't. The court of appeal decision would appear to suggest that the errors committed at the original trial were such that there is a possibility that the defendants would not have been found guilty. Even were that not the case, if an error is serious enough the principle remains the same; you are either convicted beyond reasonable doubt, or you are acquitted. There is no - and ought not to be - a middle ground.

Here's one for you all to think about; in certain circumstances, a court will accept a majority verdict. ie, even if say two of the twelve jurors do not think the defendant is guilty, the court will convict on the basis that the other ten jurors do. Personally I have a problem with that insofar as if two of twelve jurors are unconvinced (that's nearly 17% of the jury) then is there not a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty?

13th Jun 2003, 08:34
It appears therefore that 83% versus 17% wins, and 17% is not considered 'reasonable'!!

And doing the crime would in my book warrant doing the time whether there was an admin fault or not.

18th Jun 2003, 22:50
the fact of the matter is that this government is so intent on not being thought as as racist in any form, they will go to such rediculous measures to ensure "good thoughts" for them through out the poorer countries. I would not be surprised if the hijackers are now living in council supplied homes in north london, eating food from food vouchers, wearing nice new clothes and enlisted for every single benefit under the sun.. lives of luxury and all paid for by us, not the right honourable President blair, or Cherry Blair, no you and me and other hard working under paid people.
this country is a joke, it is dangerous and a horrible place to live, i am almost at the end of the JAR CPL route, wish now i hadn't, should have gone to the USA to live.

England may once again regain itself and no longer be seen as an easy touch.. when ... who knows

18th Jun 2003, 23:17
Cheerio then, Spitfire. I wish you well.

There have been two such cases to come to court in recent years - the court of appeal also quashed the convictions of six Iraqis who hijacked a Sudanese aircraft bound for Jordan fearing that they were about to be deported and would face certain death if they were. The trial judge ruled that the defence of duress of circumstances should not be left to the jury because there appeared to be no immediate threat of death or serious physical injury. This was, said the court of appeal, a misdirection - it was sufficient for the threat to be 'imminent'. Rose LJ gave the best example: 'If Anne Frank had stolen a car to escape from Amsterdam and been charged with theft, the tenets fo English Law would not, in our judgment, have deined her a defence of duress of circumstances, on the ground that she should have waited for the Gestapo to knock on her door." In cases such as these the court of appeal stated that juries should not be deined the opportunity to consider for themselves whether hijacking was in fact a proportionate response to the percieved threat.

The defence in the Afghani case was on the same basis - to wit, the hijackers were opponents of the Taleban regime and thought their lives in danger. The original trial judge ruled that their ought to be an objective threat of death or serious injury before the defence could be relied upon. In fact, the court of appeal ruled that it would be sufficient that the defendant perceives such a threat. Hence, the convictions were quashed, as the decision ought to have been left to the jury.

So, gentlemen, the point is this; in both cases these are issues that should have been left to the jury to decide, not the judge. Had the jury been allowed to consider the defence they may have convincted, they may have not - it is not for us now to decide.

It amuses me to see how you lot apply certain double standards: on the one hand, if a journalist writes a story about aviation or there's an accident of some sort, 99% of you rush out to say how we should not prejudge, how we should wait until all the facts are known, how those outside the industry cannot possibly know enough to have any sensible views on the subject, and yet when it comes to legal matters the barrack room lawyers come out in force to denounce the law as being in favour of convicts, criminals and the Evil Wrongdoers of Ealing.

Certain principles are important. I subscribe to the view that it is better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man should suffer. Do you all disagree? If so, what if you were the one innocent man?

Edited not to actually correct the typos but to apologise for them - I have had one glass of wine too many.

Flying Lawyer
19th Jun 2003, 08:41
Your summary of the legal position (and what went wrong in the trial) is of course correct, and it's certainly very frustrating when people say things about the legal system/lawyers which are totally incorrect - if you think this is bad, don't even think of venturing into JetBlast ;) - but aren't you being just a little harsh in this instance? We're on an aviation website where some contributors might be the very people who'll be looking down the wrong end of a gun in the next hijack.

Legal issues aside, I don't feel any sympathy for these hijackers. Firstly, having escaped they could have surrendered when they arived in Moscow, but they preferred the idea of coming to England and forced the crew at gunpoint to fly them. Secondly, having arrived here and having been assured they were safe, they nonetheless continued to keep the crew (and those passengers not in on the plan) prisoner for three more days. Three days must seem rather a long time when you're being held captive by hijackers threatening you with guns and grenades and you have no idea whether you'll live or die. It's a far cry from the Anne Frank stealing a car to escape.

I think they were far luckier than they deserved.

19th Jun 2003, 18:28
FL - for what it's worth, I think they were ridiculously lucky and ought to have been convicted. Had the jury been left with the decision whether to convict or not there is every likelihood that they would have done so.

Harsh? Perhaps a little; this just happens to be a particular bugbear of mine, but in any case here endeth my rant on the matter. Apologies for hijacking the thread;)

20th Jun 2003, 07:46
So the general opinion would appear to remain that they in fact did commit the crime. Did exceed what might reasonably been reckoned to have been refuge, did unreasonably hold by force for three days a plane load of people, and were extremely lucky to get off, that a jury would probably have convicted them and yet still were released. Hardly a nod and a winking matter I would have thought. That is why LB there was such a bloody uproar, because it is obvious to even the most simple minded person in the land that after a massively costly trial they have been released due to a cockup by the legal profession who are supposed to see to it that we all sleep safely in our beds.:*
Just one more example of what is happening in the halls of 'Justice':yuk:
Harsh, you must be joking. Hardly a joking matter though and you were right about one thing it was truly riduculous.

20th Jun 2003, 08:25
LegalApproach said earlier "the test for the Court of Appeal was not whether there had been some irregularity in the trial but whether the convictions were unsafe as a result. The Court can decide that despite a misdirection the convictions are safe."

So why didn't they since the evidence was overwhelming?

20th Jun 2003, 18:14
According to the only proper law report I've been able to find, the Appeal Court judge said
the judge had been incorrect to hold that there had to be a threat in fact rather than something which the defendant reasonably believed to be a threat before the defence of duress could be invoked

In other words the trial judge told the jury that there had to be an actual threat for the defendants to argue duress. The Court of Appeal said this is wrong: it is a question of what the defendants honestly believed. The misdirection by the judge deprived the jury of the opportunity to consider the defence in the correct legal context. Since the Court of Appeal should not be in the business of second guessing what the jury might have done had they had the correct direction, the conviction was quashed. Since this was following a retrial the Court clearly thought it inappropriate for there to be a third retrial. The Crown has said they intend to appeal.

I imagine that the defendants argued that they only surrendered once they were satisfied that they were not going to be sent back to Afghanistan. Whilst they may have suspected that the Russians might have sent them back had they surrendered in Moscow, I'm unclear how they got round the point that they did not need to keep a full plane load of passengers hostage on a flight to Britain.

Had they released everyone at Moscow (except the considerable number of other passengers who also decided to take advantage of the situation and claim assylum in Britain!) then they would have at least been able to claim the moral high ground. Since behaviour under duress (in the legal sense) has to be proportionate, I don't understand why the Court of Appeal did not decide that despite the misdirection it would have made no difference to the jury's verdict, on the basis that keeping that number of people hostage for that long is on any view of the law disproportionate to the duress they were under.

I sometimes do get the feeling that in the Court of Appeal the facts are not always allowed to get in the way of a good legal argument!

Alot of these problems would be solved if criminal defences were codified in an Act of Parliament as opposed to being left to the common law and the decisions of the higher courts to clarify them. Of course the government is far too preoccupied with forcing through good 'sound bite' political legislation to do something sensible like this.

Yes, the defendants were extremely lucky, though in fact most of them were very lucky with the original sentences, which resulted in all but two of them having been released before the appeal decision. All in all this decision and the whole trial process does not show the English Criminal Justice system in a good light.

20th Jun 2003, 18:46
Have these (rather insanely liberal) judges been appointed by the Blair government?

If so, I find it quite ironic - that while the Blair government proclaims its toughness on crime at every opportunity, its judges seem to take perverse pleasure in doing just the opposite!

P'raps judges should be given yearly (mandatory) sanity tests.: E

20th Jun 2003, 22:26
Judges are appointed by the queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor (who has just been abolished, so we will now have an independant appointments commission).

It is considered bad form in civilised countries for judges to be considered 'the governments' judges'! That tends to happen in rather less savoury countries where presidents rule for life and appoint and dismiss judges whenever they feel like it - no names mentioned.

Things could be a lot worse.

21st Jun 2003, 07:08
I as one who have voiced complaints about the Justice system in Britain, and feel that some of the recent judgements are lenient bordering on idiocy will still admit that I feel that the system is a good one as systems go. There are indeed plenty that are very much worse and I do give thanks for the system we have. That it appears to err on the side of caution and leniency I may well have cause to rejoice about some fine day?? With my luck though I will probably get a Judge Jeffries.

22nd Jun 2003, 18:23

I don't wish to sound pompous (well not on my own time anyway) but you state that the evidence was overwhelming yet a first jury failed to agree and the subsequent convictions arose after a re-trial and a flawed direction from the judge. The trial(s) each lasted a number of weeks and unless you are present during a trial and hear all of the evidence it is impossible to saay what the strength of the evidence is. I have read newspaper reports of cases I have been in and heard media broadcasts and sometimes the report bears little resemblence to what I recall of the days proceedings as a whole. Of course this can appear very flattering when one get's someone off against a seemingly overwhelming prosecution case. Problem is that Journo's tend to report the prosecution opening and very little else of the meat of the case. It's worth remembering that a 30 second daily newsreport represents up to 5 hours worth of live evidence. Of course, again it's very flattering when prosecuting as one's mum, spouse, friends etc see lots of newsprint with "Mr Legalapproach for the Crown, in opening said........ Mr Legalapproach told the jury........ Mr Legalapproach went on to say....... The case continues"

The trial judge dealt with the case on the basis that there was little question but that they were justified in the initial hijack but that the continuation beyond Moscow was questionable. Personally (and the Moscow theatre siege might support this) Moscow would not necessarily be my ultimate destination of choice and the Russians have a robust attitude towards dealing with such situations. Might have been mutually beneficial for them to leave asap - not quite an FR turn around but it was not significantly far short. The defendants were sentenced as from Moscow onwards hence the significantly shorter sentences than they (and everyone else) were expecting.

The conspiracy theorists amongst you might be interested to know that one Afghan occupant of the aircraft was never charged with the hi-jacking despite strong evidence that he was heavily involved. By co-incidence he just happened to have been a fairly senior chap who had been a former advisor (or certainly involved with) the Russian military during their occupation of the country. Never charged, never tried, never deprted and currently living happily in the U.K. in a des res provided by HMG. As I say, must have been pure co-incidence that he just happened to have been on the flight.

24th Jun 2003, 01:08
They certainly live happily ever after! I have a house which was let through a government agency via the FO to asylum seekers. Since they terminted the contract, I have been averaging about a thousand pounds a week in motoring fines. That's without the unpaid bills. One of them is being sued over an accident without insurance.
Best of it these offences are all in London N19 or thereabouts, and the house was in the Midlands.

30th Jun 2003, 17:54
There can always be an excuse for hijacking (valid excuse from the hijacker's point of view and an invalid one from the pilot's). Arrested hijackers have always claimed political victimisation or personal problems as root causes for their actions. Notwithstanding any reason, however genuine it may seem, hijacking remains an unlawful act and cannot be condoned, specially to serve as a deterrent for would-be hijackers.