Bomb plotter Nezar Hindawi loses parole bid


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The Independent Online

Bomb plotter Nezar Hindawi, who was jailed for 45 years over his bid to blow up an Israeli airliner, has lost his bid to be released on parole, sources said today.

Hindawi was jailed in 1986 after planting a bomb in his pregnant fiancee's hand luggage for a flight from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv.

He has lost his application for early release, which was referred back to the Parole Board in April last year, sources said.

The 57-year-old Jordanian's release date, without parole, falls in May 2016.

The High Court in London has previously declared the parole decision-making process in his case "unfair and legally flawed".

Lord Justice Thomas and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies quashed refusals by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and his predecessor Jack Straw to accept earlier Parole Board recommendations that Hindawi should be released and deported.

The Parole Board recommended Hindawi's release and deportation to Jordan as far back as November 2009.

It concluded that he presented "no more than a minimal risk to the public and his remaining risk could be safely managed".

But successive Government ministers have kept him in prison serving what is believed to be the longest specific jail term imposed by an English court.

Hindawi's lawyers described them as "implacably opposed" to his early release, triggering a series of legal battles.

All parties agreed in April that the matter should go back to the Parole Board for a final decision because the Justice Secretary no longer has the power to make further decisions on Hindawi's release.

The power was removed in such cases by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

Hindawi was jailed after hiding Semtex explosive in the luggage of his pregnant fiancee, Irish woman Anne-Marie Murphy, then 32, without her knowledge, but the explosives were detected and the plot was foiled - avoiding a potential loss of 375 lives.

Hindawi became eligible to be considered for parole in 2001 after serving one third of his sentence.

Successive Government ministers rejected his applications for early release, leading to a series of legal battles.

David Blunkett, while home secretary, refused in 2003 to refer his case to the Parole Board.

Then, in November 2009, former justice secretary Jack Straw refused to accept a Parole Board recommendation that Hindawi be released - a decision upheld by his successor, Mr Clarke.

Hindawi was from a well-to-do Palestinian family whose land was expropriated by Israel, and the family had become refugees in Jordan.

His early life was surrounded by conflict. He was 12 when the Middle East Six Day War broke out and the village where he lived was burned.

The judge said this was highly relevant to him being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He joined the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), became a writer and travelled to London.

It was in London that he began his relationship with Ms Murphy, whom he sent to board the aircraft with the bomb.

Mr Straw concluded there was "insufficient evidence" that the risk he posed had reduced to the extent where it would be safe to release him.

But Lord Justice Thomas dismissed Mr Straw's conclusion as flawed, with "no rational basis".

The judge ruled there had been "an unfair process that did not put the Secretary of State in a position to make a rational decision".

A Parole Board spokesman said: "The only legal question which the parole review has to answer is the risk of a further offence occurring during the parole window, weighed against the benefits to the prisoner and public of a longer period of testing on parole.

"Risk is the overriding factor."

He went on: "When making their judgment the board will take into account the nature of the index offence, the prisoner's offending history, the prisoner's progress in prison, any statement made on behalf of the victim(s), psychologist's reports, probation officer's reports, prisons officer's reports, any statistical risk assessments that have been completed and the view of the Secretary of State.

"It is not the policy of the board to comment on or confirm its decisions or reasons in individual cases such as this."

Hindawi's lawyer Daniel Guedalla, of Birnberg Peirce & Partners, declined to comment on the result of the hearing.