Decks were finally cleared on Wednesday for the deportation of Abu Qatada, the radical preacher once described as Osama bin Laden's “right hand man in Europe'', to Jordan after the European Court of Human Rights rejected his appeal for a review.
The court gave no reason and simply said that it had decided that “the request should be refused''. “The panel found that the request had been submitted within the three month time-limit for such requests. However, it considered that the request should be refused,'' it said.
Mr. Qatada had appealed against the British decision to deport him after getting assurances from Jordan, where he is wanted on terror charges, that he would get a fair trial and that evidence obtained from other witnesses through torture would not be used to prosecute him.
Earlier this year, the European court had blocked his deportation on grounds that evidence gained through torture could be used against him jeopardising his human rights, and he was released on bail from six years of detention without trial.
Last month, Mr. Qatada was re-arrested after the U.K. claimed it had got assurance from Jordan but even as it was preparing to resume deportation proceedings he lodged a final appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European court.
Home Secretary Theresa May, who had faced criticism over her handling of the case, said she was “pleased by the European court's decision''.
“It has always been the government's intention that the Qatada case should be heard in the British courts, so I am pleased by the European Court's decision today. I remain confident that the assurances I have secured from the Jordanian Government mean we will be able to put Qatada on a plane and get him out of Britain for good,'' she said.
Mr. Qatada (51), whose real name is Omar Othman, fled to Britain in 1993 after claiming he was tortured by Jordanian authorities. He was convicted in absentia for his alleged involvement in two major terrorism plots in Jordan but he claimed that the convictions were based on evidence obtained by torturing his co-defendants.