Is this British Justice?

Mustapha Taleb was born in Algeria on the 28th October 1969. He was a member of the Algerian political party which won the general election in June 1991.

However the election result was overturned by the military and his FIS party was outlawed. After arrest, torture and later release, Mustapha managed to flee the country. The marks of torture are still on his body today.

He arrived in Britain in March 2000 and applied for political asylum, which was granted on 23rd November 2001. He was given permission to work and did various jobs in the Finsbury Park area where other Algerian refugees often gather. One such job was in the bookshop of the now well known Finsbury Park Mosque.

On the 7th January 2003 he was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the so called Ricin Terror Plot. 'So called' because it was eventually demonstrated that there was no plot and no ricin. Mustapha did not even know personally any of his co-accused until he met them in Belmarsh prison.

He was held in Belmarsh for two years and three months. The trial began in September 2004 and ended with a unanimous 'Not Guilty' verdict, in April 2005. (One of the accused was convicted of a lesser charge which did not involve any of the others.)

Mustapha was released after the 'Not Guilty' verdict and was free for a few months. In Sept 2005 he was detained again under new security powers and put in prison until January 2006. He was then placed, under strict house arrest, in a flat in north London.

In August of 2006 he was again sent back to prison until July 2008. He was then released, put under strict house arrest in a one bedroom house on the outskirts of a South Midland town and 'tagged'. Even his few approved visitors find his house hard to reach.

He has never been told who has accused him or of what. Accusations may well have come from informants in Algeria who are themselves under threat. Meanwhile the Home Office is doing its best to get him returned to Algeria where he faces imprisonment and torture. Even to flee that country is itself a crime.

His last hope of justice may lie with the European Court of Human Rights but that will take years and he is already aged 41.

This whole story is one of the denial of basic justice. He should either be charged with a crime and tried, on the basis of open evidence, or he should be released. This whole process is a denial of the norms of justice of which we in Britain were once proud.

We ask Kenneth Clarke, who heads the Ministry of Justice, to intervene at once. We ask all those who read this account to make their own representations to their political representatives and to raise public awareness of Mustapha’s plight in any way they can.

Bruce Kent, Vice President Pax Christi;
Fr. David Ardagh-Walter, Parish Priest, St. Mellitus N4;
Barbara Kentish, Justice and Peace Field Worker

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