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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 18:30 GMT
Wrongly jailed pilot wins review
Lotfi Raissi with wife, Sonya and mother Rabea
Lotfi Raissi (centre) says his life was destroyed by the accusations
An Algerian pilot mistakenly accused of training the 11 September hijackers has won the right to challenge a decision not to compensate him.

Lotfi Raissi was never charged with any terrorism offence but spent five months in Belmarsh high security prison.

Although a judge later said there was no evidence linking Mr Raissi to terrorism, the Home Office said he was not entitled to compensation.

But a High Court judge awarded him the right to a judicial review.

'Life destroyed'

Mr Raissi, 32, says his detention at Belmarsh damaged his reputation and caused him distress and psychological damage.

"My life has been destroyed. I chose to become an airline pilot, I worked hard for it and I starved for it," Mr Raissi said.

"But the reality is that because of my profile of being Algerian, Muslim, Arabic and an airline pilot, I suffered this miscarriage of justice."

US prosecutors had suspected Mr Raissi of being a key instructor for some of the 11 September hijackers.

HMP Belmarsh
Mr Raissi spent five months in Belmarsh

He was living at Colnbrook, Berkshire, near Heathrow Airport, when officers from the Metropolitan Police arrested him 10 days after the 2001 attacks.

He was kept on "holding charges" pending proceedings for extradition to the US.

Mr Raissi was released on bail from Belmarsh in February 2002 and in April that year a judge ruled that there was no evidence connecting him to terrorism.

Full hearing

Last year, the Home Office said that he was not eligible for any compensation payment.

But Mr Justice Ouseley ruled at the High Court on Friday that Mr Raissi had an arguable case that the compensation scheme should apply to extradition cases, and that there must be a full hearing.

Mr Raissi had argued that it was unfair and unreasonable to limit the scheme to cases involving criminal proceedings in this country.

The case was adjourned until March.

Terror accused demands apology
14 Aug 02 |  Features

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