Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Injustice of No Justice

Scandal of the detainees

By Patrick Hennessy, Deputy Political Editor

Serious questions were asked today over how four Britons could be held for two years in Guantanamo Bay - but completely cleared by British police in just 24 hours.

The four detainees flown home from the notorious American prison camp were freed late last night, while one other Briton, Jamal al-Harith, had walked free almost as soon as landing in Britain the previous evening. Today the American government faced the prospect of huge embarrassment as the men prepared to tell their stories and lift the lid on the secretive camp.

Despite being branded "the worst of the worst" by US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the four - Tarek Dergoul, Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul and Ruhal Ahmed - are now free without a stain on their character.

It took only eight hours of "perfunctory" police questioning by anti-terrorist squad officersand brief consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service to conclude there was no reason to put them on trial.

The police did not even use their powers to release the men on bail, indicating there will be no further questions.


Labour peer Baroness Uddin said: "It's about time they were returned. We must step up our efforts to ensure that they are returned to Britain opportunely.

"The fact that the Americans have made the four out to be different from the remaining five is now I think seriously questionable. There's a lot of speculation going on that it is politically motivated."

She said she was "deeply worried" hearing a US spokesman claiming the five had been released as a "charitable gesture" to Britain. "This is deeply flawed," she added.