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Convicted al-Qa'ida leader loses torture claims appeal

BRITISH judges have rejected an appeal by the man who became the first person to be convicted in the UK of directing terrorism.

The London Appeal Court ruling found that intelligence gained from torture is not a breach of human rights laws.

The key judgment was against an al-Qa'ida commander who claimed he was mistreated in Pakistan.

Rangzieb Ahmed (34), from Manchester, alleged that Britain was complicit in his torture in Pakistan.

But his conviction was declared safe by Lord Justice Hughes, Mr Justice Owen and Mrs Justice Thirlwall at the Court of Appeal.

During a hearing last year, his lawyer told the judges that he was unlawfully detained while in Pakistan, beaten and had fingernails removed with pliers during torture sessions.

Lord Justice Hughes said: "Torture is wrong. If it had occurred there could be no excuse for it, not even if Rangzieb was a suspected terrorist who might kill people.

"But the question was not whether it is wrong, but what consequences flow from it, if it occurred." He added: "It cannot be the law that every act of torture has the consequence that the tortured person becomes immune from prosecution in every country and for all time, whatever crime he may commit."

Ahmed was jailed for life with a minimum term of 10 years in December 2008.

Manchester Crown Court heard during his trial that he headed a three-man al-Qa'ida service cell which was preparing to commit mass murder.

The Rochdale-born Muslim was also found guilty of al-Qa'ida membership, along with his associate, Manchester taxi driver Habib Ahmed. Lancashire-born Habib Ahmed, who was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison -- nine for being a member of the terror group and an additional one year for possessing a document for terror-related purposes -- also had his conviction appeal dismissed.

During the appeal hearing last year Rangzieb Ahmed's QC, Joel Bennathan, claimed that the UK was "complicit" in acts of torture.

He argued that the trial judge should have halted the proceedings against him as an abuse of process.

Rejecting Rangzieb Ahmed's appeal yesterday, Lord Justice Hughes said the result of a pre-trial inquiry by the trial judge "was that torture had not been demonstrated to have occurred, and had been demonstrated not to have occurred before the sole occasion when Rangzieb said he had been seen by British officers".

Lord Justice Hughes added: "Even if there had been torture whilst Rangzieb was in Pakistan, it had no bearing on the trial and there was no reason why the question of whether or not he was guilty of an antecedent crime in England should not be decided according to law."

Irish Independent