Cops charged with beating terror suspect

Aug. 12, 2010 at 2:51 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Four British police officers face criminal charges over an alleged attack on a Muslim terrorism suspect wanted by U.S. authorities, prosecutors said Thursday.

Metropolitan Police Service constables Nigel Cowley, John Donohue, Roderick James-Bowen and Mark Jones are to appear in a London court Sept. 22. They face a maximum penalty of five years in jail if convicted.

The men are accused of a "serious, gratuitous and prolonged" assault on Babar Ahmad during his Dec. 2, 2003, arrest, causing "heavy bruising" to his head, neck, wrists and feet, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said.

Ahmad -- a 36-year-old British computer specialist accused by the United States of running Web sites used to raise money for terrorists -- alleged the arresting officers beat and grabbed him around the neck, pulled his testicles and mocked his Islamic faith, The Guardian reported.

At one point, he alleged, they forced him into a praying position as an officer shouted: "Where is your God now? Pray to him."

The Metropolitan Police Service -- whose national responsibilities include leading counter-terrorism matters -- initially denied Ahmad had been assaulted, saying officers had used reasonable force during the arrest, but in March 2009 admitted liability in Britain's High Court of Justice and agreed to pay $94,000 to Ahmad in damages.

Ahmad said in a statement Thursday he was "pleased" a jury would now "determine whether any police officer should be punished."

He is being held in western England's Long Lartin maximum-security prison after the European Court of Human Rights temporarily halted his extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges.

The court is to rule next year if extraditing Ahmad would breach his rights under European law because he could face life imprisonment without parole and solitary confinement.

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