4 May 2011

Police face trial for ‘beating up’ terror suspect

Four police officers go on trial accused of beating a terror suspect – with evidence provided by an MI5 bug which was planted in the suspect’s prayer room.

The prosecution told a jury at Southwark Crown Court that Babar Ahmad was subjected to a “sustained and violent” assault when police smashed their way into his south London home on December 2, 2003.

They arrested Mr Babar on suspicion of providing finance and logistical support to al-Qaeda.

The jury was told the officers called Mr Ahmad a “f**ng bastard and a f***ng c**t” as they punched and beat him to the floor.

He was then pulled by the handcuffs to his feet, stamped, and taken downstairs to a room used for praying, where the officers then asked, “Where is your god now?”

But still, and despite the restraint now in place, the assault continued. The officers then asked ‘Where is your god now?’ Jonathan Laidlaw QC

The jury was told that the officers later pretended the catalogue of injuries was a result of Mr Ahmad resisting arrest and thrashing around in the police van.

Jonathon Laidlaw QC said the four accused officers of the Territorial Support Group (TSG) simply told lies to cover up their role in the beating of the victim.

PC Roderick James-Bowen, Mark Jones, Nigel Cowley, and John Donohue all deny assaulting Mr Ahmad and causing actual bodily harm.

Mr Ahmad was never charged but has spent the last six years in prison fighting extradition to the US on terror charges.

A protester holds up a sign calling for Babar Ahmad's release (Reuters)

The jury heard that despite being handcuffed, Mr Ahmad was repeatedly assaulted.

“But still, and despite the restraint now in place, the assault continued.

“The victim was taken downstairs to his prayer room and put in the position Muslims adopt to pray. The officers then asked ‘Where is your god now?’.”

The prosecution played a recording from an MI5 bug which had been planted in the prayer room of Babar’s house. The jury was told it picked up the sounds of the raid and arrest.

The prosecution said it gave some idea of the atmosphere.

On the recording, one officer is heard saying “Lay him out and properly search him.” It may be the first time MI5 surveillance material has been used in the prosecution of police officers.

The trial is scheduled to last approximately four weeks.