The fate of the five British terror suspects who are flying home from Guantanamo Bay today will be decided by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Police files on the men are to be passed to Ken Macdonald QC, for advice on whether any of the cases should proceed to court. Sources at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that he would consider whether prosecution was in the public interest. It is unusual for the DPP to become personally involved in such a decision.
Mr Macdonald was a leading defence barrister who specialised in representing alleged terrorists. The cases will be his first real test in the job.
Last month the Government confirmed that the detainees - Rhuhel Ahmed, Tarek Dergoul, Jamal al-Harith, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul - could be arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 for questioning in connection with possible terrorist activity. But legal experts believe that any evidence against the men would be ruled inadmissible by the courts because their two-year detention was in breach of British and international law.
David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, confirmed today's release of the five men, but indicated that emotional appeals for the return of the remaining four Britosn in Guantanamo had fallen on deaf ears.
For the first time, Mr Blunkett said evidence against the four would be "best used in the US not in Britain", apparently opening the door for them to face military tribunals planned at the controversial Camp Delta in Cuba.
Mr Blunkett said during a speech at Harvard University's law school in Boston, Massachusetts, last night that the four - Feroz Abbasi from Croydon, Birmingham's Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar, from London - were different cases because they had been arrested "in the combat zone" in Afghanistan.
"The evidence that has been picked up is best used in the US not in Britain because the people who evaluated that evidence, who heard that evidence are, of course, those who were present and have been involved with the interrogation process," Mr Blunkett said.
British ministers had been having detailed talks with the US on how trials should be carried out and negotiations were continuing, he told an audience of 100 people at the Boston campus.
"We have spelt out the process that we have adopted (in the UK) and the requirements that we have built in for appeal and legal representation.
"I'm very clear that the Attorney General's view was that if people were to be held and tried on the basis of the material the US have, it would be better that they were tried with process here."
Campaigners for detainees who are to remain indefinitely in the camp in Cuba delivered a letter to the White House yesterday asking George Bush for their release.
The delegation included Terry Waite, the former Beirut hostage, Vanessa Redgrave, the actress and activist, and Azmat Begg, whose son Moazzam Begg is in the camp. Mr Begg said: "We want them to know that we are human beings and we should be treated like human beings."
Asked yesterday if he believed what had gone on at Guantanamo Bay was wrong, Mr Blunkett said: "Yes I do ... People have a right to legal representation and to challenge the decisions taken. That is not the case in Guantanamo Bay."
Families of the five men to be released had not been informed yesterday when they would return to the UK, but unconfirmed reports suggested that it could be tonight.Reuse content