Lotfi Riassi - Home Office appeal against compensation thrown out by House of Lords - War criminal Jack Straw exposed as a despot and a fucking liar
Yesterday (See (Times) (PA) today) the House of Commons Appeal Committee refused the Home Office petition appeal against a claim for Compensation for wrongful imprisonment by Lotfi Raissi . It exposes scandalous , corrupt and dishonest activity by the Metropolitan Police, the Crown prosecution Service, the then Home Secratary war criminal Jack Straw, sucessor Home Secretaries and numberless and nameless Home Office officials. This involved the impronment without charge or trial of Lotfi Raissi for nearly 5 months in Belmarsh prison as a Category A prisoner on false, misleading, and concocted evidence and public claims of terrorism and mass murder were made without a scrap of evidence to support such claims.
Claims which were parroted by an unquestioning Press happy to retail these poisonous lies. Faced with clear evidence of the lies and dishonest claims made to keep Riassi in jail the Home Secretary then twice refused to omensate him for his loss of liberty, income and any psychological distress to himself and his family and the lingering slur on his reputation.
This is the story so far ...
Lotfi Raissi, 27, was alleged to have trained pilots involved in the US 9/11 terror attacks, including the hijackers who crashed a plane into the Pentagon . He was arrested in the UK on September 21, 2001 by the Metropolitan Police on the request of the US Authorities - directly by the FBI. He was hauled away naked by the Police after they arrested both he and his wife at gunpoint at 3.am (she was held for 5 days, his brother for 2 days) after smashing their way into his flat. The media (eg BBC) at the time hailed the arrest in Britain of the first suspects in the global hunt for the men who planned the worst terrorist attacks ever seen.
On September 28th he appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court. The United States Government was represented by the CPS. The CPS sought a remand in custody for 60 days pending receipt of the formal extradition request.Various newspapers quote Ms Arvinda Sambir (Sambei in some press stories) (CPS lawyer) stating that Mr Raissi's job was to ensure that the 9/11 pilots were capable and trained. A Guardian Unlimited article quoted her as saying:
"It is no secret that we are looking at charges of conspiracy to murder, what we say is that Mr Raissi was in fact an instructor for four of the pilots responsible for the hijackings and the one we are particularly concerned about is the one that crashed into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour."
It was this advocate for the CPS who said that there were pages missing from his log book and that those pages related to the time that he was training the dead pilots, with whom he had conspired. This allegation relating to the missing pages was withdrawn in late November/early December 2001 when it was realised, that someone had taken the log book apart for copying and had reassembled it in the wrong order.
The Appeal Court Judges were later to note of these proceedings (para 52)" We have not been shown any contemporaneous document which supports the allegation made by the CPS that Raissi was involved in 9/11."
There was a further Court appearance by Raissi on October 5th which the Appeal Court Judges were later to says ,(para60) "Nothing that this court has seen could be said to justify the CPS statement that the appellant was 'shortly to be charged with conspiracy to murder'. "
On Tuesday 12th February having been held in Belmarsh prison for 5 months without having been charged with any offence, he was released on conditional bail as he only faced extradition on two counts of falsifying an application for a US pilot's licence by Judge Timothy Workman.
Mr Raissi was released on £10,000 bail, ordered to surrender his passport and told not to apply for international travel documents. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which was representing the US, had objected to bail.
The Appeal Cort Judges later noted Para 98 .."According to the clerk's notes DJ Workman said:
"Your client appeared before me on a number of occasions when allegations of terrorism made- the court has received no evidence at all to support that allegation. (Underlining added)"
They also later observed in Para 99 that "Since the dismissal of these extradition proceedings, the appellant has not been the subject of terrorism charges either in this country, in the United States or elsewhere. "
In 2005 the Home Secretary twice ruled he was not eligible for compensation and so in October 2006 he asked the High Court to overturn the Home Office's decision, claiming the detention "damaged his reputation, lost him his liberty and caused him distress and psychiatric injury".
As a consequence Court of Appeal Judges Lady Justice Smith and Lord Justice Hooper found minor charges unconnected with terrorism were used to keep Mr Raissi in custody and their judgement was highly critical of the Metropolitan Police and the CPS.
Yesterday the House of Commons Appeal Committee refused the Home Office petition appeal because the petition did not raise an "arguable point of law of general public importance".
Mr Raissi has called for a "long awaited apology" from Justice secretary Jack Straw and will be making claims for compensation which will run into many millions of pounds beacuse he has been able to obtain employment as an airline pilot.
In the submissions to the Home Secretary for compensation dated March 2004, it was said that there was a clear abuse of the process of the court because the proceedings were being used for an ulterior purpose. A number of factors indicating that the extradition proceedings were used for an ulterior purpose were then set out: the reference to holding charges, the nature of those charges and the deliberate 'talking-up' of the evidence by the CPS. The document gave a detailed account of how the terrorist allegations developed over the period that the appellant was in custody.
It is not a lengthy process but it is worth considering the summary of these abuses of process in detail ; (Para 101 of judgement)
i) In court on 28 September 2001 the CPS described Raissi as a 'lead instructor' of the five 9/11 pilots. Records available to the CPS at that time showed that in fact Raissi had flown separately from Hanjour and that Hanjour was taught by other instructors. This was confirmed by interviews of Raissi conducted by DC Stevenson. The CPS' description of Raissi was therefore not only unsupported by the available evidence, but was in fact contradicted by it;
ii) However, the CPS lawyer, Ms Arvinda Sambir, went further outside court and said that Raissi's job was to ensure that the pilots were capable and trained. Again, she had no evidence to support this statement;
iii) At the next hearing on 5 October 2001, the CPS modified the allegation, saying simply that Raissi had flown together with Hanjour between 1997 and 2000 on three unspecified occasions. This was also misleading. The flight records showed simply that Raissi and Hanjour may have flown on the same day, and even used the same aircraft, but not at the same time, and therefore not 'together';
iv) The statement of Ryan Plunkett asserted that Hanjour, Raissi and Mr Hassan trained together in a plane on the 8 March 2001. However, Richard Egan's statement explained that the 8 March 2001 entry in Raissi's log book was a mistake and that he in fact flew on 9 March 2001. He also observed that the log book showed that the flights undertaken by Hanjour and Raissi were for different durations and involved different manoeuvres;
v) At the hearing on 27 November 2001, the CPS asserted that Raissi trained Hanjour at least once. However, they admitted 'there were no flight records to support the allegation';
vi) Mr Plunkett said that Raissi trained Hanjour on a flight simulator, and that they had taken flight simulator training at Arizona Aviation on the same day on five occasions.
vii) At the High Court Bail application on 10th December 2001, the CPS conceded there was no flight simulator at Arizona Aviation. However, they stated that there was one at Sawyer Aviation and that Hanjour and Raissi may have undertaken simulator training together, although the records were unclear;
viii) In fact, the flight training schools records, which had been available to the CPS from the beginning of the extradition proceedings, not only did not support their case that Raissi trained Hanjour, but contradicted it by revealing Hanjour's other flight instructors. In saying the records were unclear, rather than accepting that the allegation was unsubstantiated, the CPS misled the court;
ix) Mr Pontin of SO13 misled Mr Egan in telling him that the FBI had not spoken to Mr Hassan, Mr. Hanjour's instructor. In fact, as Mr. Hassan informed Mr Egan shortly after his conversation with Mr Pontin, the FBI had interviewed him twice, and he had told them he had never flown a plane with Raissi and Hanjour. He had also said he did not even know if they knew each other;
x) The CPS never conceded that Hanjour and Raissi did not fly or train together. On 12 February 2002 they asserted that only one matter had changed in their reasons for opposing bail and that was the alleged link between Raissi and Mr Abu Doha. It was implicit in this that one of their grounds of opposition – that Raissi flew with or trained Hanjour – was maintained, despite there being no supporting evidence;
xi) The CPS also stated in unqualified terms (on 28 September and 5 October 2001) that there was video evidence of Raissi and Hanjour together. However, it was clear from only a cursory examination of the material that the man photographed with Raissi was not Hanjour. The CPS had produced no evidence of anyone saying that the other man was Hanjour. Mr Egan explained in his statement of 28 November 2001 that the man was Raissi's cousin. Nonetheless, the CPS continued to maintain at the High Court bail application that it was Hanjour.
xii) It is plain that the CPS neither produced nor possessed any evidence of any kind that showed that Raissi had trained Hanjour or any of the other hijackers.
xiii) The broader allegation made by the CPS on 28 September 2001 of a general link between Raissi and the hijackers was also unsupported by the evidence. On 5 and 26 October 2001, and at the High Court bail hearings, they said simply that Raissi regularly telephoned Hanjour and that they travelled together. In fact Raissi's telephone bills, which the CPS had in its possession, indicated no contact at all with Mr Hanjour. No other evidence was provided to support any of these assertions;
xiv) As for the alleged link between Raissi and Abu Doha, this was based on the misleading impression given by Mr Plunkett that an address book was found at a property in London belonging to Abu Doha, and contained a telephone number of a flatmate of Raissi. There was an implication in Mr. Plunkett's statement that the book belonged to Abu Doha. In fact, the tenant of the property in question was Mr Abdelaziz Kermani, who subsequently gave evidence that the address book was his, and that that would have been apparent to anyone recovering it. Among other things, it had his Home Office reference number on the front of it, was in a locked brief case in his bedroom, and was with his British and Algerian driving licences, his Algerian ID card and correspondence addressed to him;
xv) The Metropolitan Police and the CPS were aware of the evidence strongly suggesting the address book belonged to Kermani, not Abu Doha. The misrepresentation of the book as providing a link between Raissi and Abu Doha must have arisen from the actions of either or both of those authorities;
It is also worth remembering (para 24) that Raissi was interviewed by officers of the Metropolitan Police following his arrest and that an FBI agent observed the interviews from a remote location via a television link.
At Para 30 it shows that Raissi ... was "de-arrested" at 2.17 am on 28 September (6 days after his arrest) . At that time, therefore, it can be inferred that the police in this country had no reasonable cause to believe that he was a terrorist; otherwise he would have been charged. Nothing on the papers suggests that thereafter they had such reasonable cause. If they had reasonable cause, it is difficult to believe that they would not have re-arrested him when he was eventually released on bail or when he was later discharged on the extradition charges.
At Para 32 ...28 September 2001, following his 'de-arrest', Raissi was immediately re-arrested on a provisional warrant issued by District Judge (Magistrates' Court) ("DJ") Evans under paragraph 5 of Schedule 1 of the Extradition Act 1989 .. this was for extradition for ...(he) omitted to disclose previous surgery on a Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") Form.. and a second charge that .."alleged an omission to disclose "that you have been to a health care professional in the preceding three years" and at Para 40 .. The health professional whom the appellant had visited was apparently the surgeon who had operated on his knee.
Yesterday Mr Raissi said : “There can be no more appeals and no more excuses. The courts have held that I was the victim of a miscarriage of justice at the hands of the police and CPS. Jack Straw should accept the decision of the courts and offer me the long-awaited apology I have asked for.”
The Times and the PA gave very curt coverage today to this momentous decision. The above story should be read by anyone who is being asked to extend the need to imprison people for 42 days without charge.
It is worth noting that Raissi's case presents difficulties indiscussions with his country of birth, Algeria , whose government refuses to sign an agreement with Britain about extraditing hijackers until Britain acknowledges that its treatment of Raissi was flawed. British authorities continue to insist that British police and prosecutors acted properly, and it was American authorities who were at fault for supplying them with bad intelligence.
In its judgment the Appeal Court stated that the “primary responsibility for the falsity” over the notebook lay with the Met and the CPS. The judges also found that the false claim about the flight logs could be blamed on either carelessness or incompetence by Scotland Yard.
“We consider that the way in which extradition proceedings were conducted in this country, with opposition to bail based on allegations which appear unfounded in evidence, amounted to an abuse of process.