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British Court Rules 9/11 Suspect Can Claim Damages

Britain's Court of Appeal has ruled an Algerian pilot wrongly accused of training the 9/11 hijackers is entitled to claim damages. From London Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA.

The Appeal Court judges ruled Lofti Raissi, who spent five months in jail after being wrongly accused of training 9/11 hijackers, should be allowed to claim damages.

The judges said evidence suggested police and prosecutors were responsible for serious faults in detaining him for nearly five months.

The British government had rejected a claim for compensation by Raissi in 2004.

Following the Appeal Court ruling, Raissi told British television that he is not a terrorist and he abhors terrorism. He said the wrongful arrest had ruined his life as he has been blacklisted from working as a pilot.

"Now I am completely exonerated I am very glad since the day I had faith in British justice and justice is what I got," he said. "I never thought I would see the day that I would be completely exonerated, and now I will ask the Home Secretary to provide me with a widely publicized apology for my family, and for the part that they played in destroying my life and my career."

Police arrested Raissi September 21, 2001,10 days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He was released from a high security jail when a judge ruled there was no evidence whatsoever to connect him with terrorism.

At hearings to have him extradited to the United States, counsel for the state alleged he had taught four of the hijackers how to fly and had associated with known terrorist suspects, including the suspected ringleader Mohammed Atta.

A video the FBI claimed showed Raissi with one of the hijackers was revealed in court to be footage of him with his cousin. The government refused to compensate him for wrongful arrest and imprisonment and claims the British authorities were acting properly on an American request for his extradition.

The Ministry of Justice issued a short statement saying it is considering whether to appeal.

Thursday's judgment follows the dismissal Wednesday of terrorism convictions against five young Muslims after judges concluded that reading Islamist material was not illegal unless there was "direct" proof it was to be used to inspire violent extremism.