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Stansted hijackers to be freed

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Stansted hijackers to be freed

Old 23rd May 2003, 01:14
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Stansted hijackers to be freed

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

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.

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Old 23rd May 2003, 01:41
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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.

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Old 23rd May 2003, 02:40
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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!
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Old 23rd May 2003, 02:53
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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.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 03:33
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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.

Last edited by Freeway; 23rd May 2003 at 05:20.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 04:01
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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!!
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Old 23rd May 2003, 04:17
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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.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 04:28
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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.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 05:42
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send them home

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.

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Old 23rd May 2003, 06:52
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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!
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Old 23rd May 2003, 07:17
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To quote saying I hear day and day out about what is happening in this country:

‘Were will it all end?’
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Old 23rd May 2003, 07:27
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Haven't you guys learnt anything?
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Old 23rd May 2003, 08:17
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Thumbs down

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
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Old 23rd May 2003, 15:48
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Red face

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.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 16:07
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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.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 16:46
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newarksmells, I think you may be misrepresenting the situation when you say
Now 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!
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Old 23rd May 2003, 18:24
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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.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 18:50
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Thumbs down

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?
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Old 23rd May 2003, 19:04
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Now they will probably sue for damages for false imprisonment , and win. No I'm not joking
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Old 23rd May 2003, 19:35
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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...
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