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13-March-2016 Freed terror suspect Babar Ahmad: I just want Scotland Yard to say sorry

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by Robert Verkaik

Ahmad suffered 73 injuries in ‘ferocious’ assault at hands of Met police before being imprisoned without trial for eight years

A British man who suffered 73 injuries after being arrested by anti-terrorist police has called on the Metropolitan police commissioner to apologise for the actions of his men.

Babar Ahmad, 41, who won a court case against the Met and £60,000 in damages, says that during the “ferocious” assault in 2003 he thought he was going to die. He was released a few days later after the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that there was no evidence of any terrorism offence. But in 2004 he was imprisoned in the UK without trial for eight years following an extradition request from the Americans. In 2012 he was deported to face trial in Connecticut.

In his first interview since his return to the UK eight months ago, Ahmad, from south London, has told the Observer that he wants the police to apologise for the abuse he suffered.

“In the end, they paid me damages,” he said, “but it was never about the money and, although they admitted liability, they have never said sorry. Even nearly 13 years later, and nearly 12 years’ imprisonment – including two in a US Supermax – I still suffer from pain I sustained in that assault.”

In December 2003, Babar Ahmad was arrested by the Met’s elite counter-terrorism unit. They broke down Ahmad’s front door and charged into his bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife. In a 40-minute ordeal he was subjected to physical, sexual, religious and verbal abuse.

He was forced on to the floor and cuffed. “They twisted the handcuffs until I cried out in pain. Two of the officers punched me repeatedly on the head, face, ears and back. On two occasions the officers sexually abused me by tugging at and fondling my genitals. And then the officers stamped on my bare feet with their boots.”

During the attack, the officers mocked Ahmad’s religious beliefs. After placing him in a Muslim prayer position, one officer sarcastically asked: “Where is your god now?”

He was bundled into a police van where the abuse continued during his journey to Charing Cross police station. “An officer whom I later found out was PC Mark Jones punched me repeatedly and another, PC Jon Donohue, twisted the cuffs until I screamed out in pain. Jones then applied two choke holds. During the second choke hold I thought I was going to die. To this day I still recall Jones saying, ‘You will remember this day for the rest of your life. Do you understand me? You fucking bastard.’”

CCTV shows Babar Ahmad in a collapsed state as he was pulled out of the van and taken to the custody suite at Charing Cross.

“Today I’ve got damaged nerves in my wrists and I suffer from flashbacks. Most people think police officers don’t do bad things – when I was small boy I had a toy police helmet and I used think that, too. But I don’t feel bitter towards anyone – I would just like an apology for what happened.”

Last year Ahmad was finally released from prison after being sentenced to 12-and-a-half years for providing material support to the Taliban government in at a time when it was harbouring the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin LadeAfghanistan.

Judge Janet Hall, the chief federal district judge of Connecticut, rejected the prosecution’s demands for him to serve 25 years. Her unexpectedly lenient sentence meant that, because of time already served, Ahmad was freed within months.

In a judgment that strikes at the heart of the tenets that define the war on terror, the judge described Ahmad as a “good person” who had been a model prisoner and had never been interested in terrorism.

Crucially she said that supporting groups engaged in defensive jihad on a battlefield did not make someone a terrorist.

She ruled that, although two articles supporting the Taliban published on Ahmad’s website constituted a serious criminal offence under US law, his support of the war efforts in Bosnia and Chechnya during the 1990s were judged not to be terrorism.

A Met spokesperson said: “In 2009 Mr Ahmad agreed to the terms of settlement in the civil action he brought against the MPS. We have no intention of altering those terms.”

“Allegations of mistreatment were investigated and in 2011 four officers were found not guilty of assault at a criminal trial when evidence that was not available during the civil proceedings was produced.

“The officers were also found to have no case to answer with regards to misconduct allegations.”



SOURCE: The Observer

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