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Judges to hear May's Qatada appeal
Home Secretary Theresa May's appeal against the decision to allow radical preacher Abu Qatada to stay in the UK is to begin - three days after he was arrested for breaching bail conditions.
Three Court of Appeal judges led by Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, will hear the challenge.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) decided last November that Qatada could not lawfully be deported to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999.
Siac judges ruled there was a danger evidence from Qatada's former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, said to have been obtained by torture, could be used against him in a retrial in Jordan. They said: "The Secretary of State has not satisfied us that, on a retrial, there is no real risk that the impugned statements of Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher would be admitted probatively against the appellant."
Mrs May immediately pledged to appeal and told the Commons that Jordan had given assurances about its legal processes. She described Qatada as "a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist, who is accused of serious crime in his home country of Jordan".
The hearing comes after Qatada was arrested on Friday for breaching his bail conditions. Mr Justice Irwin ordered on Saturday that he should remain in custody after hearing "strong prima facie evidence" that mobile telephones or communications equipment had been switched on in his house.
Qatada, now in his early 50s, was born in Bethlehem in the West Bank at a time when it was occupied by Jordan.
He was granted bail following the ruling by three Siac judges - including chairman Mr Justice Mitting - and released from HMP Long Lartin, returning to his family home in London. However, on Friday he was returned to Belmarsh prison where he is due to remain in custody ahead of a further bail hearing on March 21.
Qatada's wife and five children recently won an injunction preventing protesters from demonstrating outside their house. He has used human rights laws to fight deportation for sveral years, running up a legal bill unofficially estimated at over £500,000.
Mrs May's lawyers will attempt to convince Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Richards, that the latest Siac decision is legally flawed and Qatada can at last be safely sent to Jordan.