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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 14:40 GMT
Cut-throat defence offers 'pariah' status
By Chris Summers
BBC News

A man has admitted being the fifth 21 July bomber only days before his retrial was due to begin. At his trial earlier this year Manfo Kwaku Asiedu's legal team had pursued a "cut-throat defence" which incriminated his co-accused.

CCTV footage of Manfo Asiedu
Asiedu claimed he thought the chemicals were for cosmetics

At times during the 21 July trial earlier this year the barrister for Manfo Kwaku Asiedu was landing heavier blows to his co-defendants than the prosecution.

It was Asiedu's counsel, Stephen Kamlish QC, who actually made the link between the 21 July plot and the 7 July attacks.

Cross-examining Muktar Ibrahim, he pointed out he was in Pakistan at the same time as two of the 7 July bombers, Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer.

That was a line of attack which even the prosecutor, Nigel Sweeney QC, had chosen not to go down.

Stephen Kamlish QC
Stephen Kamlish's priority was to help win his client's acquittal
In fact, during legal argument out of the jury's earshot, at least one of the other defence barristers suggested Asiedu and Mr Kamlish be excluded from the trial.

Having seen what he had done to Ibrahim and Yassin Omar, Steven Williamson QC, counsel for Ramzi Mohammed, was fearful of what damage Mr Kamlish's cross-examination would do to his client.

The judge, Mr Justice Fulford, pointed out to Mr Williamson it was Mr Kamlish's job to provide the best defence for his client and he had no duty towards the other defendants.

So Mr Kamlish tore into Mohammed, accusing him of forcing his partner to change her religion and throwing his five-year-old son's Playstation away because it was forbidden or "haraam".

Trial strategy

"You had gone from a sweet man to a man who was totally ruled by your version of Islam," Mr Kamlish claimed.

As part of his strategy, Mr Kamlish sought to portray his client as the unwitting dupe of a gang of dangerous zealots who literally put the fear of God into him.

Defendants may sit next to each other in the dock but that does not mean they are united and it is not uncommon for criminals to stab each other in the back, metaphorically, in an attempt to play down their own role in a crime.

Mr Asiedu has lied on a quite epic scale
Nigel Sweeney QC

It is what is known in legal circles as the "cut-throat defence".

Mr Kamlish played it with panache.

The 21 July trial began with reporters trying to guess what sort of defence would be offered by the six men in the dock.

Four of the six defendants - the bombers themselves who had been caught red-handed by forensic and CCTV evidence - gave basically the same story.

They claimed it was only ever intended to be a hoax and the devices were not harmful.

The fifth defendant, Adel Yahya, claimed he had left the country long before the incident and was therefore oblivious to any conspiracy.

But on the morning of Thursday 22 March 2007 Asiedu dramatically broke ranks.

He admitted there had been a conspiracy to commit carnage but he claimed he had been forced to take part under duress by Muktar Ibrahim.

Made link with 7/7

He said he had pulled out and dumped his rucksack bomb in a park rather than detonate it on a packed Tube train.

Asiedu then claimed to have returned to the flat in Southgate, north London, and dismantled a booby-trap bomb.

Manfo Asiedu
Asiedu had to be seated separately from the others

The jury at the trial was discharged in July after being unable to reach a verdict on the charge against Asiedu and Yahya.

Both were due to face a retrial - at great expense - next week but on Monday Yahya was jailed for six years after admitting a lesser charge.

On Friday after a hearing at Kingston Crown Court, sitting at the Old Bailey, Asiedu admitted to one charge of conspiracy to cause explosions.

The charge of conspiracy to murder was dropped.

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