[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Friday, 22 December 2006, 13:20 GMT
UK 'terror plot' suspect in court
Rashid Rauf at court in Rawalpindi
Rashid Rauf says he is not guilty
A British man held in connection with an alleged plot to blow up airliners has appeared in court in Pakistan.

Rashid Rauf's case was briefly heard by the judge, who adjourned it until January at the request of the defence.

Mr Rauf faces charges of forgery and carrying explosives. He told reporters he was innocent. Terrorism charges were dropped last week for lack of evidence.

Pakistan has presented Mr Rauf as one of the ringleaders behind the alleged plan to blow up flights out of London.

This is wrong and an injustice - it's all fabricated
Rashid Rauf

Mr Rauf was making his first public appearance since being arrested in August.

Dressed in a black shawl and white prayer cap, he rejected the charges against him.

"Wrong, injustice," he told reporters at the court in Rawalpindi.

Asked if he thought he would get a fair hearing, Mr Rauf said: "Let's see."

The judge allowed him to meet relatives inside the court who said he appeared "healthy and in good spirits", the AFP news agency reported.

'Explosives'

Mr Rauf's detention in Pakistan triggered arrests in the United Kingdom of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights.

Armed police officer on duty at UK airport
The alleged plot prompted a massive security clampdown

The August arrests led to increased airport security around the world, causing major disruption.

Passengers on many flights were forbidden to take liquids aboard aircraft.

The Pakistani authorities described Rashid Rauf as a key figure.

But last week an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he belonged to a terrorist organisation.

The case of Mr Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani origin, was downgraded from an anti-terrorism court to a regular court.

His lawyer says police evidence amounts only to bottles of hydrogen peroxide found in his possession.

Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant that can be used for bomb-making if other chemicals are added.

Extradition request

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the judge's decision has reinforced the already widespread scepticism there about the airliner plot.

Several commentators said the threat was deliberately exaggerated to bolster the anti-terror credentials of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and that it helped to demonise British Muslims of Pakistani origin.

The Crown Prosecution Service in the UK said the dropping of charges against Mr Rauf in Pakistan would "make no difference" to the case against the men charged in Britain.

In August, the British government requested the extradition of Mr Rauf, who returned to Pakistan four years ago, in connection with a 2002 murder.

Scotland Yard declined to discuss which murder case the request related to.

The government in Pakistan, which has no extradition treaty with the UK, said it was considering the request.


SEE ALSO
UK 'plot' terror charge dropped
13 Dec 06 |  South Asia
'My grandson is no terrorist'
24 Aug 06 |  South Asia

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



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

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific