By Jack Doyle
00:17, 14 April 2012
00:17, 14 April 2012
Ministers are optimistic that a deal with Jordan will allow them to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada
Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights blocked moves to send the
hate preacher back to the Middle East where he is wanted on terror
The three-month deadline set by the court is Tuesday, but it is expected to pass without an appeal.
Home Secretary Theresa May is confident of securing an agreement with Jordan
which would meet with the Strasbourg court’s approval.
Sources said a deal was ‘95 per cent’ done.
The prospect of a deal would also allow Mrs May to return to court and demand Qatada be put back behind bars.
The Home Secretary flew to the Middle East to try and thrash out a deal following the ECHR ruling in February.
The Strasbourg judges said returning Qatada would breach his fair trial
rights under Article 6 of the European Convention on human rights.
They warn evidence which could be used against him by the Jordanian authorities may have been obtained through torture.
Mrs May must secure an agreement which would satisfy the court Qatada will get a fair trial.
Once next week’s deadline has passed, Qatada will be able to launch a legal bid to have his bail conditions relaxed.
The 52-year-old, once described as Osama bin Laden’s right hand man in
Europe, is kept on a 22-hour curfew at his home in north London.He is also banned from talking to named terrorists and cannot use a mobile phone or the internet.
The nightmare scenario for ministers is that the court could lift his bail
conditions entirely, leaving him free to walk the streets.
But if ministers can show a deal is imminent, bail conditions are less likely to be relaxed.
The Home Office could also ask the court to return him to prison pending deportation.
He was released from Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire in February after spending six years behind bars.
If a deal is secured, Qatada will be
able to appeal again, first to a special immigration tribunal, and then
through the courts and all the way to Europe.
Officials fear it could take two years to get him on a plane if he continues to use the courts to thwart removal.
Ministers are resisting demands from some Tory backbenchers to return Qatada in defiance of the ECHR ruling.
They fear any such move would be blocked by the courts, or could lead to Britain being forced to take him back.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are making good progress in our
negotiations with Jordan, and we are confident that when a deal is done,
we will have the assurances we need to resume the deportation process
which will see Qatada put on a plane.
‘In the meantime, it would anyway be impossible to resume the deportation
before 17 April, because a legal injunction prohibits us from doing so.
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