Four police officers have been cleared of beating up terror suspect Babar Ahmad during a raid on his house.
Pc Roderick James-Bowen, 40, Pc Mark Jones, 43, Pc Nigel Cowley, 34, and Detective Constable John Donohue, 37, were acquitted by a jury at Southwark Crown Court, in London, of assaulting Ahmad.
Jurors rejected Mr Ahmad’s claims that the officers attacked him during an early morning raid at his home in Tooting, south London, in December 2003.
The jury took just an hour to find all four policemen not guilty.
The terror suspect was arrested on suspicion of leading a group that provided support for al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist networks.
He claimed in court that he was beaten, sworn at and had his Islamic faith mocked in an assault that began at his home and continued in a police van and at a police station.
But the four officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Territorial Support Group insisted that his injuries were either self-inflicted or caused by a legal tackle that took him to the ground when he was first detained.
Pc James-Bowen told the court he had a “ferocious” struggle with martial arts expert Mr Ahmad in which he used “significant force”, but rejected accusations that he and his colleagues beat him up.
The four-week trial heard that the suspect’s arrest came 11 months after Detective Constable Stephen Oake was murdered in Crumpsall, Manchester, by terror suspect Kamel Bourgass.
Police chiefs briefed the arresting officers that Mr Ahmad was to be considered as dangerous as Bourgass and said they feared he would resist, the jury heard.
Pc Jones told the court he and the other officers in his unit were told by their sergeant before the operation that the suspect had been trained by al Qaida in armed and unarmed combat.
In evidence during the trial, Mr Ahmad admitted travelling to Bosnia three or four times to fight during the bloody 1992/95 war, but insisted he was not an “al-Qaeda superman”.
He was never charged in relation to his arrest but has spent nearly seven years in British prisons without trial awaiting extradition to the US for alleged terrorism offences.
After the verdicts, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, the Recorder of Westminster, said he hoped Mr Ahmad’s situation would be resolved soon.
He told the court: “I express the hope that his ordeal as a man in detention in this country for a number of years without trial is brought to an end as soon as possible, either by his extradition or by his release.
“It is no concern of this court as to which, but it is a matter of concern and I would have thought should be a matter of concern to the public at large, quite apart from Mr Ahmad, that here is a man who has been in custody for literally years without knowing what his fate is to be.”