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Terrorism suspect wins police brutality claim

A Briton awaiting extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges won £60,000 in damages today from the police over the brutality of the officers who arrested him.

Babar Ahmad, a 34-year-old computer expert, suffered what his lawyer called a "prolonged and violent series of gratuitous assaults" as well as religious abuse in a dawn raid on his home in Tooting, south-west London, in December 2003.

Lawyers for the Met police chief Sir Paul Stephenson, who had initially disputed the claim, agreed at the High Court that Ahmad had been the victim of gratuitous violence, the Press Association reported.

One of the officers alleged to have been involved will now face criminal action, the court was told.

"This abuse took place not in Guantanamo Bay or a secret torture chamber but in Tooting," Ahmad said in a statement.

"I can now put this incident behind me and focus on the fight to prevent my extradition to the United States."

On Monday, Ahmad's lawyer Phillippa Kaufmann told the High Court that officers dragged her client from his home using handcuffs and subjected him to dangerous neck-holds which made him fear for his life.

Police had been told that Ahmad, a Muslim, was believed to be connected to al-Qa'ida and was the head of a south London terrorist group and was potentially very dangerous.

The court heard he was repeatedly struck before he could comply with officers' commands and at one point was forced onto his knees, instructed to pray and asked: "Where is your God now?"

Ahmad's lawyer said he suffered bruising and injuries to his ear drums, wrists, forearms and feet, as well as a psychiatric injury.

However, after his arrest, Ahmad was questioned and then released by counter-terrorism detectives.

Although he has never been charged with any offence in Britain, he was re-arrested in August 2004 after US officials accused him running a website that raised funds for Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

He is still in custody awaiting a decision on whether his extradition would contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, called for a full independent inquiry into Ahmad's case, saying racism and Islamophobia still festered within the police force.