Hassan Ghani, Press TV, London
After seven years in prison without charge or trial and awaiting extradition, there’s a new shocking twist to Babar Ahmad’s story. The UK crown prosecution service had previously maintained there wasn’t enough evidence for a trial here in the UK. Now the CPS has admitted that it hasn’t seen most of the evidence against him, which was instead sent across the Atlantic to US prosecutors. There’ve been calls for an enquiry.
Caroline Lucas MP says it’s shocking that the evidence was hidden from UK authorities and this is why Babar Ahmad has been locked up without charge for seven years. He could have faced trial a long time ago and been declared innocent or guilty. There has to be an independent inquiry.
This will add further weight to the demands of Babar Ahmad’s supporters, who say that since his alleged crimes took place in the UK, so should his trial.
On Thursday, in a parliamentary debate on UK’s extradition treaty with the US, MPs across the political spectrum agreed the current system needs to be re-examined, with many arguing that it failed to protect the human rights of British citizens. Currently US authorities don’t need to provide evidence for an extradition request.
But there was also concern over why the debate wasn’t allowed to take place in the House of Commons, parliament’s main debating chamber, where MPs can vote on the matter.
Caroline Lucas says there needs to be a serious debate on the extradition treaty which is unfair towards UK citizens and has led to people like Babar Ahmad being locked up for years without charge or trial.
Disappointed, cheated, and insulted is how the family of Babar Ahmad described their reaction to the decision to refuse a full debate in the House of Commons.
Babar Ahmad’s case for a fair trial in the UK was tacked on to a pre-existing debate on extradition. And that debate has taken place, quickly and relatively quietly, outside of Parliament’s main debating chamber. This is not what the campaign, or its 140 thousand plus supporters, had expected when they signed up to the government’s petition system.
But, given the strength of feeling and consensus amongst parties that there needs to be a change, there is hope that all MPs may soon be able to discuss and vote in the House of Commons, on what has been described as a one-way extradition system.