Stansted hijacker wins Home Office challenge

 

An Iraqi man arrested at Stansted Airport after taking part in the hijack of an airliner today won the latest round of a 16-year fight to stay in the UK.

Mustafa Abdul Hussain - one of the hijackers of a Sudan Airways Airbus which flew into Britain in August 1996 - successfully challenged the Home Office after ministers refused to grant him "indefinite leave to remain".

A judge said Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May should reconsider Mr Hussain's case, following a High Court hearing in London.

Deputy High Court Judge James Dingemans QC said the Home Office decision to refuse Mr Hussain "indefinite leave to remain" had been "flawed".

Judge Dingemans said Mr Hussain was part of a group which hijacked the airliner - which had 197 people on board - after it left Sudan on August 27 1996.

Mr Hussain, and others, had surrendered at Stansted and claimed asylum, then been arrested.

The judge said Mr Hussain was a Shiite Muslim from Basra and his family had suffered at the hands of the Iraqi regime headed by former leader Saddam Hussein.

He said Mr Hussain had been accused of refusing to serve in the Iraqi army, detained without trial, tortured and sentenced to death.

The judge said Mr Hussain had escaped from Iraq in 1995 and travelled to Sudan.

Mr Hussain claimed he had been acting under "duress" when he carried out the hijacking.

He said he had been facing execution in Iraq and feared being seized by Sudanese authorities and returned.

Mr Hussain told the judge in a witness statement: "... We had no choice but attempt to leave the country in the manner that we did by hijacking the Sudanese Airbus."

But in 1997, Mr Hussain - and others - were tried and convicted for their respective roles in the hijacking.

Mr Hussain was given a five-year prison sentence, Judge Dingemans said.

A year later, appeal judges had quashed convictions and no retrial was ordered, he added.

Mr Hussain had been released and had resumed his fight to stay in the UK - and Judge Dingemans today outlined a series of applications and decisions by officials stretching over more than a decade.

Judge Dingemans said Mr Hussain was challenging a Home Office decision to refuse indefinite leave taken in October 2011.

Mr Hussain complained that others involved in the hijacking had been granted indefinite leave to remain - and argued that he was treated inconsistently.

The judge concluded that the Home Office decision was flawed because ministers had ignored "relevant matters" and because other people involved with the hijacking had been given indefinite leave to remain.

Judge Dingemans said the case would be remitted to the Home Office for reconsideration.

Home Office ministers had resisted Mr Hussain's claim and denied "any unlawfulness" in their decision-making process.

The judge heard legal argument at a High Court hearing in London earlier this month and handed down a written ruling today.

PA