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Thursday 27 October 2016

Judge dismisses Choudary's 'regret' as he jails him for over five years

Emily Pennik London

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary's expression of regret at breaking the law by inviting support for Islamic State (Isil) was swept aside by a judge who, sentencing him to five-and-a-half years, said he "knew exactly what he was doing".

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The 49-year-old former solicitor refused to stand up in the dock as his sentencing hearing began before Mr Justice Holroyde.

But in mitigation, Choudary's lawyer Mark Summers said: "These two years have given Mr Choudary time to reflect on what this case is about.

"I hope my lord will accept that the evidence in this case shows over the course of 20 years Mr Choudary has done his best, determined to stay within the law, acting on the boundaries of it but staying within the law. In the commission of these offences, Mr Choudary believed he was still within the law, although ignorance of the law is no defence.

"But he has had time to reflect and on reflection would have done things differently had he known the boundaries of the law."

Choudary, a father of five, who is carer for his elderly mother, has lived off benefits and never accepted payments for his speeches, Mr Summers said.

Over the past 20 years, Choudary had loudly expressed his beliefs, which to many would be seen as an "unwelcome and unpleasant world view".

Mr Summers argued that there was no evidence that anyone had acted on Choudary's speeches with "murderous violence" in the limited time he had broken the law. But Mr Justice Holroyde said Choudary was aware of his considerable influence and what the likely consequence of his words would be at a crucial time for the spread of Isil in Syria.

He said: "You said nothing to condemn any aspect of what (Isil) was doing at the time. In that way you encouraged violent terrorist activity."

Both Choudary and his co-defendant Mohammed Mizanur Rahman (33), who was also handed a five-and-a-half year sentence, were previously convicted over a protest march in London about Danish cartoons of Mohammed in 2006.

Choudary, from Ilford, was fined for failing to give notice of a public procession, while Rahman, who also lives on benefits, was convicted of soliciting murder and using racially abusive words or behaviour.

Irish Independent

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