Parade protest case flawed, say lawyers

The case against Muslim protesters who branded soldiers murderers at a homecoming parade should never have been brought to court, their lawyers said today.

Angry scenes broke out during the parade in Luton for the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, known as The Poachers, on March 10 last year.

Seven Muslim men are accused of saying the soldiers would "burn in hell" and branding them rapists, murderers and baby killers.

Jalal Ahmed, 21, Yousaf Bashir, 29, Jubair Ahmed, 19, Ziaur Rahman, 32, Shajjadar Choudhury, 31, Munim Abdul, 28, and Ibrahim Anderson, 32, all from addresses in Luton, are standing trial at Luton Magistrates' Court charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

But their lawyers today submitted that the prosecution of the men was an abuse of process.

Neil Mercer, who is defending Rahman and Abdul, told the court the group were making a peaceful political protest which the police allowed to go ahead on the day.

They had flagged up to the police in advance their intention to protest, set out in advance what they wanted to say and complied with police throughout, he said.

"Citizens are entitled to expect that once they have done this they will not be prosecuted," he said.

"If you go to the police and give them full disclosure beforehand and comply throughout, how can it then be right that you are