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Abu Qatada Tribunal: Evidence Gained Through Torture 'Could Be Used' Against Terror Suspect

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Statements allegedly obtained by torture could be used against terror suspect Abu Qatada if he is extradited to Jordan, but it is "highly unlikely", a tribunal has heard.

Qatada, 51, who was allowed to stay in Britain in 1994, is fighting extradition to the middle eastern country where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999.

The British Government wants him returned and his life sentence prison term will be annulled the second he touches down, the tribunal heard, pending a retrial.

He was convicted with co-accused Al Hamasher and Abu Hawsher who provided statements against him, which were alleged to have been obtained by torture.

Qatada's defence argues the statements could be used again against him should be return.

abu qatada

A tribunal is trying to decide whether Qatada would be given a fair trial in Jordan

On Friday, Jordanian law expert Thaer Najdawi told the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) it was "technically" possible the statements could be used but "highly unlikely".

Najdawi consulted seven lawyers in Jordan to formulate his view.

He said Jordan has no similar case history and there was nothing to compare it with so opinions were split about what would happen.

He insisted that because Al Hamasher and Abu Hawsher are no longer prisoners they would have to make new statements as witnesses and be available to be cross-examined.

He said their original statements would form part of the case paperwork but could not be relied upon to convict Qatada, who is also known as Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman.

abu qatada

Qatada was convicted on terror charges in his absence

He said the new statements they make would have more weight and would be "shahada" - given on oath, where their originals were not - or "ifhada".

He said: "In the retrial they are no longer co-defendants, they are normal people.

"They are either acquitted individuals or convicted and have served their sentence.

"It has to be examined and cross-examined in court in order to be a reliable statement in any court process against Mr Othman (Qatada)."

He said it would be "impossible" for the statements to be used if the two witnesses do not attend court.