Plane terrorist loses freedom bid

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Nezar Hindawi is serving a 45-year jail sentence for attempting to plant a bomb on an El Al flight Nezar Hindawi is serving a 45-year jail sentence for attempting to plant a bomb on an El Al flight

A convicted terrorist who has served 26 years in prison for trying to blow up an Israeli airliner has lost his latest High Court bid for parole.

Lawyers for Nezar Hindawi, 57, argued that he no longer poses a security threat anywhere in the world and could safely be released on licence.

Mr Justice Blake, sitting in London, expressed concerns about the case, but he ruled that a Parole Board decision that the Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin must remain behind bars was both "rational and lawful on the information before it".

Hindawi, who faces deportation to Jordan when he is eventually freed, is serving a 45-year jail sentence for attempting to plant a bomb on an El Al passenger plane in 1986.

He hid the bomb in his pregnant fiancee's hand luggage without her knowledge on a flight from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv. It could have killed 375 people but was found by security staff.

The judge said: "This was a crime of great notoriety committed for political purposes."

The Parole Board panel rejected Hindawi's latest bid for early release in December last year. A previous panel recommended in 2009 that he no longer posed a threat to the public and it was safe to grant him parole, but the then home secretary Jack Straw vetoed the recommendation.

Last year the High Court ruled Mr Straw's decision unlawful and the case was reconsidered. But the latest panel opposed parole even though it found Hindawi did not pose a risk in the UK. Its decision was based on concerns that Hindawi, on being returned to Jordan under an extradition order already in place, might make speeches or give interviews there encouraging or inciting terrorism.

Tim Owen QC, appearing for Hindawi, who is entitled to automatic release in 2016, argued the decision was both "irrational and grossly unfair".

Giving his ruling, the judge expressed concern that the Jordanian authorities had not been asked for their view on the risk posed by Hindawi and their attitude to his return. But he added: "Notwithstanding my concerns that relevant information was not before the board, and might have been, the panel's overall conclusions were rational and lawful on the information before it. Accordingly, this application fails."

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