Abu Qatada: Prince Of Jordan Says He Cannot Guarantee Preacher Will Get Fair Trial
The Prince of Jordan has said he cannot give assurances that radical cleric Abu Qatada would get a fair trial in his country.
In an interview with the BBC, Prince El Hassan of Jordan, said: "I would like to say this is a country that has never taken the life of a political opponent of the regime.
"But if this man has committed crimes which is presumably why he is being held in England, I don't know what kind of court one has to offer to the Europeans. Does it want a juvenile court?"
The 51-year-old, once described as bin Laden's right hand man in Europe, was released on bail this week after more than six years in custody.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan because of the possibility he will be tortured in the country.
Home Office minister James Brokenshire has visited the country following Qatada's release, and David Cameron has spoken out about the "frustrating and difficult" efforts to deport the radical cleric.
Qatada first entered Britain in 1993, claiming asylum from torture from his native Jordan. Following 9/11 and the controversial introduction of indefinite detention for terror suspects in the UK, Qatada went underground. He became increasingly of interest to the British security services after his sermons appeared on videos found at the property of one of the 9/11 bombers. He was finally arrested in 2002 where he remained until 2005.
He was briefly released in 2005, but re-arrested later that year when the home office came to an "understanding" with the Jordanian government facilitating his deportation on the condition of a fair trial.
However, last month the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Qatada could not be extradited to Jordan due to the same concerns over torture testimony.
Fighting against Qatada's detainment, Ed Fitzgerald QC, representing the cleric, said that his client had been held for more than six years fighting deportation, and nine years overall on the ground that he was a risk to national security.
Speaking at the recent Special Immigration Appeals Commission, he said: "The detention has now gone on for too long to be reasonable or lawful and there is no prospect of the detention ending in any reasonable period.
"However the risk of absconding, however the risk of further offending, there comes a point when it's just too long. There comes a time when it's just too long, however grave the risks."
According to Roger Smith, the director of Justice, there are two issues on why Qatada has not been charged.
Speaking to The Huffington Post UK last month, he said: “The first question is what exactly has he done? Incitement seems most likely, but maybe they haven’t they nailed him on something sufficiently specific. The second question centers around what links he has had with the security services."
After keeping Qatada under arrest for the best part of a decade, it appears the UK government would rather find a way of transporting the whole mess east for Jordan to deal with rather than hold a trial in the UK that could prove a huge embarrassment for both current and previous governments responsible for Qatada's incarceration.