Europe rights court orders UK to compensate illegally detained Muslim cleric

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ordered [judgment; press release] the UK to pay £2,500 in damages to Islamic cleric Abu Qataba [BBC profile] after determining that he was imprisoned by the UK in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. The court unanimously found that the UK detained Qatada and 10 others following the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive] in violation of the prisoners' Article 5 right to liberty and security, right to a judicial review of the detention, and right to compensation. The judgment found no violation of Article 3, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. The UK was ordered [Guardian report] to pay a total of £26,000 to the detainees, plus £53,000 in legal costs. Qatada, once considered one of Osama bin Laden's chief associates in Europe, had been seeking £170,000, but the court explained that the damages awarded were significantly lowered because the government's decision to detain Qatada and the others was "devised in the face of a public emergency." The UK government reacted with disappointment [AFP report] to the decision, but applauded the court's consideration of the situation surrounding the detentions in lowering the damages awards.

The ECHR decision came one day after the UK's Law Lords [official website] ruled [judgment; JURIST report] that Qatada can be deported to Jordan to face terror charges, despite fears that he will be tortured upon his return. The Law Lords overruled the April 2008 Court of Appeal decision blocking [JURIST report] Qatada's deportation. Qatada was originally ordered deported [JURIST report] in February 2007. He was expected to be one of the first terror suspects to be deported under the UK's 2005 extradition oversight agreement [JURIST report] with Jordan. Qatada's lawyers have appealed the decision to the ECHR. On Thursday, Jordanian Justice Minister Ayman Odeh said that Qatada will receive a fair trial in Jordan [Xinhua report].

 

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