Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Refugee 'acted in self-defence'

Mr Baluch and his co-defendant were charged under the Terrorism Act

A refugee accused of calling from his London base for attacks in Pakistan was acting in "self-defence", a court has heard.

Faiz Baluch, 27, from Wembley, was calling for self-defence on behalf of his native Balochistan, a province seeking independence from Pakistan.

His lawyer, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, said he was not a terrorist but a "victim of geopolitics".

Mr Baluch and his co-defendant Hyrbyair Marri, 40, of Ealing, deny the charges.

Both men are alleged members of the Balochistan Liberation Army. They are accused of using websites and telephone links to call on others to kill in the name of the banned organisation.

Woolwich Crown Court had previously heard the organisation was behind a series of bomb attacks on Pakistani government targets.

'Problematic concept'

Baroness Kennedy described Mr Baluch as a victim of an alliance between Britain and the Pakistani government under its former president, General Pervez Musharraf, following the 9/11 attacks in the US.

She said: "Musharraf, an undoubted dictator, called the Baloch terrorists.

"And it is Faiz Baluch's case that the British government were drawn into that distortion purely for political reasons because Britain, like America, at the time, wanted Pakistan on side in the war on terror.

His case to you is that the Baloch people are entitled to defend themselves against brute violence, death and destruction
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

"He will tell you that he believes he is a casualty of geopolitics. He is a casualty of that allegiance."

Baroness Kennedy said that after US President George Bush declared a war on terror, the problem of who was deemed to be a terrorist was highlighted.

Describing terrorism as a "problematic concept", she told the jury people seeking democracy are called terrorists by tyrants and cited the example of Nelson Mandela, who was labelled a terrorist by South Africa's apartheid government.

Baroness Kennedy said although Mr Baluch was a Muslim, his religion had nothing to do with his political beliefs about Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan.

Insurgents have been fighting for independence in the gas-rich Balochistan. It is the poorest of Pakistan's provinces and Baloch nationalists accuse the central government of exploiting their resources and treating the province like a colony.

'Entitled to resist'

Baroness Kennedy said Mr Baloch believed his people were suffering horrifying abuses of human rights.

"His case to you is that the Baloch people are entitled to defend themselves against brute violence, death and destruction... what he is saying to you is that if your survival is at stake you are entitled to defend yourself," she told the jury.

"If the Germans had marched into Britain we would have been entitled to resist."

The court heard Mr Baluch's life story before he fled to the UK in 2002.

A series of events, including the arrest of his father, led to him fearing for his life and he sought asylum in the UK. He was refused asylum and appealed the decision, but that application was also dismissed in 2003.

It was while in London attending demonstrations attempting to highlight the plight of people in Balochistan that he met his co-defendant, the jury heard.

The trial continues.

Print Sponsor


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific