UK police charged with beating terror suspect
By Michael Holden, REUTERS
Last Updated: August 12, 2010 4:15pm
LONDON – Four British riot squad officers have been charged with beating up a Briton now awaiting extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges when they arrested him, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Babar Ahmad, a 36-year-old computer expert, was detained in a dawn raid on his home in southwest London in December 2003.
“Mr Ahmad suffered a number of injuries during that arrest, including heavy bruising to the head, neck, wrists and feet,” said Simon Clements, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Special Crime Division.
“Our conclusion is that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge four of the officers involved in the arrest of Mr Ahmad with causing actual bodily harm to him.”
London’s Metropolitan Police Service said it had decided to put the four officers on restricted duties after the charges.
“The MPS does not underestimate the seriousness of the allegations,” it said in a statement.
Before the raid, police had been told that Ahmad, a Muslim, was believed to be connected to al Qaeda, was the head of a south London terrorist group and was potentially very dangerous.
However, he was released after questioning by counter-terrorism detectives.
The Crown Prosecution Service initially rejected charging any officers involved, but last year Ahmad won 60,000 pounds ($94,000) in damages at the High Court from the Metropolitan Police over the incident.
Clements said the CPS had reviewed the case after that ruling and decided it could now take action against Police Constables Nigel Cowley, John Donohue, Roderick James-Bowen and Mark Jones from the Met’s Territorial Support Group.
They will appear before magistrates on Sept. 22.
“I am pleased that the CPS has decided that a jury will hear the evidence in this case and it will now be for the jury to determine whether any police officer should be punished for the assault upon me in December 2003,” Ahmad said in a statement.
Although he has never been charged with any offence in Britain, Ahmad was re-arrested in August 2004 after U.S. officials accused him of running a website that raised funds for Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
He has spent six years in custody and is awaiting a ruling on whether his extradition would contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.
The decision to charge the officers comes weeks after the CPS was widely criticised by politicians and the media for not charging a riot squad officer over the death of a man in violent protests during last year’s G20 meeting.