9/11 accused can seek compensation

Lotfi Raissi, the Algerian wrongly accused of training pilots involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, should be allowed to claim compensation, the Court of Appeal ruled.

Mr Raissi, a pilot, was arrested at his home under the Terrorism Act in September 2001, 10 days after the World Trade Centre atrocity.

He was released after seven days but re-arrested under an extradition warrant issued at the request of the United States government.

He remained in jail for four-and-a-half months, when he was granted bail despite objections from the Crown Prosecution Service which was representing the US. Raissi, 33, was finally released after no evidence was put before a court to support the terrorism allegations.

Lord Justice Hooper, giving the judgment of the Court of Appeal, said: “The public labelling of the appellant as a terrorist by the authorities in this country, and particularly by the CPS, over a period of many months has had and continues to have, so it is said, a devastating effect on his life and on his health. He considers that, unless he receives a public acknowledgement that he is not a terrorist, he will be unable to get his life back together again.”

Raissi applied for compensation in March 2004 under a scheme operated by the Home Office for people who had lost their liberty because of a miscarriage of justice. His application was rejected by the Home Secretary and Raissi took his case to a judicial review at the High Court where he was unsuccessful.

Lord Justice Hooper said: “We have allowed his appeal ordering that the appellant’s application for compensation be referred back to the Home Secretary for reconsideration in the light of this judgment.”

The judge said the appeal court, which also included the Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, and Lady Justice Smith, considered that there was a “considerable body of evidence” to suggest that the police and the CPS were responsible for what the scheme describes as “serious defaults”.

Speaking outside court Mr Raissi said: “I wept with relief when I heard the judgment. I have always said that I believed in British justice and I finally got it today. Surely I can expect to hear from the Home Secretary with the long-awaited apology very soon.”

Commenting on the ruling, the Ministry of Justice said: “We are considering the implications and whether or not to appeal.”

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