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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Race cell killing inquiry opens
Zahid Mubarek
Zahid Mubarek was serving three months for theft
An inquiry into the murder of an Asian teenager will look at why he was put in a cell with the racist who killed him.

Mr Justice Keith began proceedings with a minute's silence for Zahid Mubarek, 19, killed at Feltham Young Offenders' Institution in west London in 2000.

The High Court judge outlined issues to be investigated in a series of public hearings, to be held in September.

Decisions leading to "that critical cell allocation and any systematic failing" will be looked at, he said.

Opening proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice, the judge said: "The initial focus of this inquiry is on the circumstances which led up to the attack on Zahid Mubarek.

Robert Stewart
Psychopath Robert Stewart was jailed for life for murdering Mubarek
"That will, in particular, involve an investigation into how he came to share a cell for a number of weeks with someone like Robert Stewart."

Stewart was jailed for life in October 2001 for the murder - he beat his cellmate to death with a table leg the day before Mr Mubarek's release.

Evidence presented at Stewart's trial showed he was a seriously disturbed individual with a Ku Klux Klan sign in his cell.

A Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) report in July 2003 found Mr Mubarek would not have died if he were white.

The director general of the Prison Service has already apologised to Mr Mubarek's parents, who attended the inquiry on Tuesday.

Family fought for inquiry

Imtiaz Amin, the teenager's uncle, welcomed the start of the inquiry which came after law lords ruled that the Home Secretary must set up the public investigation last year.

He said the family were disappointed the investigation was not a statutory inquiry which would give the judge the power to compel witnesses to attend.

"We feel that we haven't been supported by the Home Secretary," Mr Amin said.

"So much funding would have been saved had he given us the inquiry we asked for from the beginning."

The judicial inquiry will also look at any evidence suggesting race was a factor behind the decision to put Mr Mubarek in a cell with Stewart.

Three experts will advise Mr Justice Keith on issues relating to race, prison operations and matters affecting inmates.

The Mubarek family fought for four years for a public inquiry after one was initially refused by Home Secretary David Blunkett.




SEE ALSO:
Racist cell murder probe ordered
29 Apr 04  |  London


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